SBA hurricane loans now a go for businesses, homeowners, renters

Over a foot of standing water blocks the entrance to Old Alice Road Monday from San Jose Road in Laureles. Hurricane Hanna’s rain bands caused significant flooding to the area over the weekend. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

HARLINGEN — Gov. Greg Abbott announced over the weekend that his request for an Economic Injury Disaster Declaration for six counties hit by Hurricane Hanna has been approved.

The decision opens the gate for local non-farm small business owners, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters in Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy, Starr, Brooks and Kenedy counties to apply for Small Business Administration long-term, low-interest loans.

“Texas thanks the U.S. Small Business Administration for providing this financial lifeline to qualifying small businesses in the Rio Grande Valley as they continue to rebuild from Hurricane Hanna,” Abbott said. “We will continue to work alongside our federal partners to ensure Texans have the resources and support they need to recover from this storm.”

So who qualifies for these disaster funds?

Homeowners can obtain loans of up to $200,000 to repair or replace real estate damage and $40,000 to replace personal property. Renters can receive up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property as well.

Businesses can receive up to $2 million to repair or replace real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other assets damaged or destroyed. These loans are available to all businesses of any size, as well as private, nonprofit organizations.

Economy injury loans are only available to small businesses and most nonprofit organizations which are suffering adverse financial impacts from hurricane damage. These loans can be up to $2 million for working capital to help pay obligations until normal operations resume.

Applicants will have to submit a credit history acceptable to SBA and show the likelihood of being able to repay the loans. Collateral is required for physical loss loans of over $25,000 and all economic injury loans over $25,000. Real estate can be used as collateral if available.

By law, the interest rates depend on whether an applicant has credit available from other financial sources. Interest rates vary depending on the applicant’s status, but generally run from 1.25 percent to 3 percent.

SBA has set up a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT. Interested parties can call at 800-659-2955 or email the SBA at FOCWAssistance@SBA.gov

On Tuesday, Angela R. Burton, district director for the Lower Rio Grande Valley District of the SBA based in Harlingen, noted SBA still is accepting applicants seeking low-interest loans for other economic hardships.

“Also we are still accepting Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications for COVID-19,” she said via email. “Business impacted by COVID-19 may apply.”

rkelley@valleystar.com