SBA Offers Disaster Loans to California Counties

The Small Business Administration announced that low-interest disaster loans are available to California businesses and residents due to the devastating wildfires that have blanketed the region.

The loans, made available when President Bush made a federal disaster declaration, covers damaged property in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

SBA Administrator Steven Preston said that when local recovery facilities are identified in the declared areas, SBA officials will provide one-on-one assistance to loan applicants.

Businesses of any size and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $1.5 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets, according to the SBA. The agency also can lend other funds to homeowners and businesses to help defray the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or curb the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses to help meet working capital needs caused by a disaster. This type of assistance is available whether or not the business suffered any property damage. The EIDL deadline is July 24, 2008.

Interest rates for a disaster-related loan can be as low as 2.937 percent for homeowners and renters and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. The SBA sets the loan amounts and terms and its decisions are based upon an individual applicant.

To be considered for disaster assistance, victims first must call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at (800) 621-3362. Details on finding an assistance center are available through the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955. The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is Dec. 24.

By Sharon McLoone |  October 25, 2007; 3:40 PM ET
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