Velázquez Calls for Extension of Maria-Related Disaster Loans
Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, today wrote to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), requesting an extension for the application period for those seeking federal loans to recover from Hurricane Maria.
The window to apply for loans to assist with property damage expires on Monday, while the application period for economic injury loans closes Wednesday, June 20th. FEMA determines whether the deadlines for these loans are extended. The loan application process is handled through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
“Considering the difficulties persisting in Puerto Rico, the deadlines must be extended to ensure that those survivors who are eligible for assistance will be able to apply for it,” Velázquez’s letter states. “Such an extension will provide these individuals with the ability to meet the paperwork requirements, assess their losses, and determine business viability. It will also allow for applicants who have not heard back from the SBA to re-apply or determine whether the SBA loan is even in the system.”
The full text of the letter is below and a .pdf is online here.
June 15, 2018
The Honorable William “Brock” Long
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C St. S.W.
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Administrator Long:
I am writing to ask that the deadlines be extended for physical property damage disaster and economic injury disaster loans, respectively June 18 and June 20, for those affected by Hurricane Maria. The natural disaster in the Caribbean created one of the most devastating hardships in the history of the region and has caused harm to millions of homeowners and small businesses in Puerto Rico. The rebuilding of the region will involve a private and public partnership to ensure the local economies start creating jobs and generating business income.
Sadly, the area is still struggling in its recovery efforts and the reality is many inhabitants in Puerto Rico are unprepared for another hurricane season already underway. Reports from the area show that the economy is struggling to recover due to a number of factors. Delayed damage assessment and infrastructure deployment has left many unable to access the outreach provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Additionally, with many parts of the Island still without power and telecommunications, residents require more time to file disaster loan applications.
The deadlines for both physical and economic injury loans are just days away and residents need your support. Considering the difficulties persisting in Puerto Rico, the deadlines must be extended to ensure that those survivors who are eligible for assistance will be able to apply for it. Such an extension will provide these individuals with the ability to meet the paperwork requirements, assess their losses, and determine business viability. It will also allow for applicants who have not heard back from the SBA to re-apply or determine whether the SBA loan is even in the system.
The SBA disaster loan program was created so that local economies could recover quickly from these disasters in a timely and efficient manner. It has helped communities get back on their feet while at the same time ensuring an efficient use of taxpayer’s dollars in a recovery effort. With all the obstacles that those in the region have faced, everything should be done to avoid creating unnecessary hardships that will only hinder recovery efforts.
The ability of the federal government’s SBA disaster loan program for home and business loans to operate as intended relies on the cooperation of all federal partners, especially the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). I understand that application periods for disaster relief under the Small Business Act must correspond with deadlines set forth under the Stafford Act and for that reason, I strongly urge you to extend the current registration deadlines for an additional 90 days.
I appreciate your ongoing efforts and prompt attention to this matter.
Nydia M. Velázquez
House Committee on Small Business