Help for Businesses Still Struggling to Rebuild After Sandy

New NYC grants program, and a deadline for SBA loan applications

The NYC Department of Small Business Services has announced a new $1 million grant program for small businesses hit by Hurricane Sandy. Funded by Barclays, Citi and UBS, the program will award grants of up to $5,000 for businesses to make physical repairs or replace damaged equipment. “Small Business Assistance Grants will now be available to help businesses that may not qualify for the [city’s emergency] loan [fund],” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. To apply for a grant, call 311 or go to www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness.

Meanwhile, this Monday, January 28, is the deadline for NY businesses to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan. (That’s also the filing deadline for FEMA disaster assistance for individuals.)

The SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance offers businesses low-interest physical disaster loans up to $2 million to cover repair or replacement of uninsured or under-insured property, equipment, inventory and fixtures and economic injury loans to meet expenses like rent that the business would normally have have been able to cover. Less well known is that the SBA also offers assistance to individuals: Renters and homeowners may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, cars, appliances, etc. damaged or destroyed in the disaster. Homeowners may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence to its pre-disaster condition. You can apply for the SBA loans online at sba.gov/disaster, or by calling 800-659-2955. Or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for assistance.

Even if you’re missing some information that’s needed on the application form, be sure to send in the application by the deadline, recommends attorney Yisroel Schulman, founder of nonprofit New York Legal Assistance Group, who answered questions about SBA and FEMA applications on The Brian Lehrer Show this week. If the application is rejected for missing info you can always appeal, but the initial application must be in by the deadline.

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