Sandy relief still available

Photo by K.C.Wilsey/FEMA The federal Small Business Administration recently reopened the application process for low-interest Sandy recovery loans.
Photo by K.C.Wilsey/FEMA
The federal Small Business Administration recently reopened the application process for low-interest Sandy recovery loans.


Some local businesses are still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy — and fortunately, there’s still a chance to apply for help. The window to apply for low-interest recovery loans from the federal Small Business Administration officially closed in July of 2013, but a new law pushed by local pols reopened the process in December last year, and extended the deadline to Dec. 1, 2016.

“While we have made significant progress in our recovery, many businesses and homeowners continue feeling economic and physical damages inflicted by Sandy,” said Congresswoman NydiaVelázquez, a co-sponsor whose district covers hard-hit areas of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“By reopening the S.B.A.’s disaster loan program and encouraging more businesses to apply, we can help our communities fully heal from this historic catastrophe.” The agency has already awarded more than $8.5 million in loans since the program reopened, according to S.B.A. spokesman Michael Peacock. Velázquez said that $3.4 million of that went to businesses in New York City, and encouraged more local businesses and homeowners to apply.

“It is important that New Yorkers know these resources are available,” Velázquez said. “If you are a business owner, renter or homeowner who gave up on the process previously, I suggest you reapply for assistance this year to be made whole.”

Velázquez said that one reason many people never completed the application process immediately following the storm was the daunting bureaucratic process. A Government Accountability Office report requested by the congresswoman after Sandy found that the S.B.A. was taking as long as 45 days even to decide whether an applicant would be eligible for aid.

She said reforms put in place since then have reduced the overall processing time to just 11 days for businesses and eight days for homeowners. Peacock said the best way to improve the application process is to stop by one of their offices to speak with a representative who can help make sure all the necessary information is included in the application.

“This is about trying to approve as many people as possible,” Peacock said. “The more complete the application, the better chance you have.” The S.B.A.’s Manhattan Disaster Loan Outreach Center is located at the offices of the New York Business Development Corp. at 5 Hanover Sq. in the Financial District.

The loans are for as much as $2 million for small businesses, up to $200,000 for homeowners, and $40,000 for personal property recovery. But some Downtown business owners still reeling from Sandy’s devastation say that the S.B.A. loan-application deadline extension is too little, too late.

Adam Weprin, the owner of Bridge Café in the Seaport has been trying to get his Water St. business back on its feet since the storm swamped it in 2012. After several false starts, he hopes to finally reopen in March, but he said that for any businesses still struggling, the last they need now is to be saddled with more debt. “We don’t need loans after something as big as Sandy,” Weprin said. “What we need right now are grants.”