PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- Starting Monday, people who were hit the hardest by the Jan. 24 tornadoes can apply for government loans to help with their recovery. This came after the U.S. Small Business Administration issued a disaster declaration on Friday, making assistance available for 13 counties in Texas.
These loans are similar to the ones offered during the COVID-19 pandemic to small businesses, offering loose eligibility criteria, generous term lengths, and caps on interest rates.
The past two months have been difficult for Cindy Turner, who was forced out of her Pasadena dance studio of 40 years due to severe damage sustained from the tornado. For the time being, Turner's nearly 200 students have been rehearsing at a temporary location of Cindy K's Dance Studio. But come July, they'll have to find another location.
"These children call the dance studio their home. I didn't want to take away their home. I want them to still dance. I'm hoping and praying every day that something will come up and the insurance can come through. We're just waiting on insurance to get it straight with what they're going to do," Turner said.
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But if things don't work out, Turner and thousands of other small business owners have another option. The U.S. Small Business Administration is now accepting applications for disaster loans from those impacted by the tornado. The loans typically come with looser qualification guidelines, generous term lengths, and low interest rates.
"Our role is to help them recoup their lives, businesses, and personal property in the form of low interest disaster loans over the long term. The mindset is to provide liquidity and dollars to keep them thriving and going," Susheel Kumar with the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Recovery & Resilience said.
There are three types of loans available. The first is a Business Physical Disaster Loan that goes up to $2 million, which is used to help small businesses repair or replace real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery, and equipment damaged by the tornado.
The second is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), meant to help small businesses and most private non-profit organizations meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. According to Kumar, these can be used for meeting payroll, making vendor payments, paying rent or mortgages, and bank debt.
Finally, Home Disaster Loans that go up to $200,000 are available to homeowners or renters to repair or replace real estate, personal property, and automobiles damaged by the tornado.
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All applicants must have an acceptable credit history, show the ability to repay all loans, and collateral for physical loss loans over $14,000 and EIDLs over $25,000. Interest rates can go as low as 2.313% for home loans, 2.375% for nonprofit organizations, and 3.305% for business loans. The law authorizes loan terms up to a maximum of 30 years.
Although Turner doesn't know exactly what her recovery plan looks like, she said it's good to know that she has options for additional support if she ends up needing it.
"I would possibly consider it depending on how the insurance comes through, because I was insured here and at my house. But I know it's a massive loss on both places," Turner said.
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Anyone needing assistance can head to the Pasadena Convention Center, where SBA disaster loan outreach is available, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Applicants have until May 16 to apply for physical damages and Dec. 18 for economic injuries.
To apply online, receive additional assistance, or download applications, head to SBA's Disaster Loan Assistance website. You can also call SBA's Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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