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SBA’s disaster assistance lending marks $50 billion milestone

Emergency lending by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to survivors of natural and man-made disasters since 1953 has surpassed $50 billion, SBA’s head of disaster response told members of the U.S. House Small Business Committee at a hearing on federal disaster response programs.

“Since the agency’s founding in 1953,” said SBA Associate Administrator James Rivera, “the agency has made more than 1.9 million low-interest disaster loans worth more than $50 billion to homeowners, renters, nonprofit organizations and businesses of all sizes.”

The $50 billion in SBA assistance represents loans made to help residents and business owners recover from many of the most devastating disaster events in U.S. history. Since FY 1989, more than $36 billion in SBA disaster loans have been made, with significant portions of that total going to those rebuilding after the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 ($4 billion), 1997’s Upper Midwest Floods ($738 million), Hurricane Ivan in 2004 ($2.2 billion), and the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes ($10.9 billion).

“Over the years SBA’s disaster assistance program has made it possible for small towns and large cities to rebuild, saving jobs and supporting the long-term economic recovery of areas that would have otherwise failed without the help,” said Rivera. “The SBA’s disaster loan program, with its low interest rates and reasonable terms make it possible for disaster victims to handle the cost of rebuilding and take the steps necessary to prevent the risk of being hit by a similar disaster.”

Disaster loans are the only form of SBA assistance not limited to small businesses. The SBA makes low-interest loans to homeowners, renters and non-farm businesses of all sizes. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged real estate. Individuals may borrow up to $40,000 to cover losses to personal property.

Non-farm businesses and non-profit organizations of any size may apply for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged business assets and real property. Small businesses and non-profits that suffered economic losses as a direct result of the declared disaster may apply for a working capital loan up to $2 million, even if the property was not physically damaged.

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