Low-interest Federal Loans Available to Aid Quake Recovery

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A house on Painter Street in Rio Dell was red tagged after being knocked off its foundation the Dec. 20 quake. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • A house on Painter Street in Rio Dell was red tagged after being knocked off its foundation the Dec. 20 quake.
At the urging of state and local officials, as well as North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to businesses and residents affected by the Dec. 20 earthquake that rocked Humboldt County, and its continuing aftershocks.

“The SBA Disaster Loan process will make it easier for our local businesses and homeowners to rebuild damaged properties and ease the financial hardship on all of our impacted residents,” said Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal in ap press release. “This is an important step that is necessary so that our community can begin to recover.”

The move will allow businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations to borrow up to $2 million to replace damaged or destroyed inventory, real estate, equipment and other assets, with interest rates as low as 3.305 percent for businesses and 2.375 percent for nonprofits. Homeowners, meanwhile, can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged real estate, while  both renters and homeowners can borrow up to $40,000 to replace or repair damaged or destroyed personal property. The interest rate for homeowners and renters is as low as 2.313 percent.


Huffman told the Journal recently that he'd pushed the SBA to make the loans available, believing them to be, along with federal funds for critical transportation infrastructure repairs, likely the only channel of federal relief funds coming to the county. He noted that because the Federal Emergency Management Agency's threshold for disaster relief is $70 million in damage — an almost impossible sum to reach in a localized disaster in a rural area — it is unlikely it will be responding to the local disaster.

To facilitate getting information about the SBA's loan program to locals in need, and receive applications, the SBA is opening a temporary field office in Fortuna. The office, which will open Monday, will be located at Rohner Recreation Hall, 7 Park St., and will operate Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, see the full press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services below.

Humboldt County residents impacted by the December 20 and January 1 earthquakes now have the opportunity to apply for federal assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Disaster Loan Program.

As part of this program, homeowners, renters, business owners and certain private non-profit organizations impacted by the earthquakes may be eligible to apply for low-interest disaster loans to help cover losses due to the earthquake. Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.

SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

“The SBA Disaster Loan process will make it easier for our local businesses and homeowners to rebuild damaged properties and ease the financial hardship on all of our impacted residents,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said. “This is an important step that is necessary so that our community can begin to recover.”

HOW TO APPLY
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. To provide in person resources to community members, SBA will be opening a Disaster Loan Outreach Center from January 9 through 27 at the Rohner Recreation Hall, located at 7 Park Street in Fortuna. The center will be open Mondays - Fridays, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., closed Monday, Jan. 16 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“Humboldt County is grateful to receive this support from the federal government, in coordination with Cal OES,” Humboldt County 2nd District Supervisor Michelle Bushnell said. “We are actively exploring all avenues available to help our most impacted residents recover.”

For more information regarding SBA Disaster assistance, applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services.

The deadline to apply for property damage assistance is March 6, 2023. The deadline to apply for economic injury assistance is Oct. 4, 2023. Applications not completed online should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

For updated information regarding the Humboldt County earthquake response, please go to humboldtsheriff.org/emergency and visit @HumCoOES on Facebook and Twitter.

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