Menendez, Booker Applaud Committee Passage of Bill to Expand Access to Low-Interest Federal Disaster Loans for Sandy Homeowners and Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 8, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) applauded the unanimous passage today by the Senate Small Business Committee of the Menendez-authored Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act which would extend, expand and improve access to federal disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

“We need to do everything we can to help those who are still struggling to recover nearly three years after Superstorm Sandy and I’m pleased this bill has moved a step forward,” said Sen. Menendez. “Providing access to much needed capital through low-interest loans will allow homeowners to rebuild, and businesses to stay open and keep their workers on the job, while repairs and resiliency upgrades are completed.”

“The committee passage of the Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act marks another step forward in our ongoing efforts to restore the extensive losses New Jerseyans suffered as a result of Sandy,” said Sen. Booker. “As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I worked extensively to strengthen this bill and streamline the application process to make disaster loans more accessible to New Jersey business owners. I am proud to join Senator Menendez in celebrating today’s progress and look forward to its final passage.”

Menendez wrote the bill in response to findings by both the Government Accountability Office and the SBA Inspector General’s Office that SBA failed to meet timeliness and accuracy standards when responding to Hurricane Sandy. As Sandy survivors continue to wait for RREM rebuilding grants and full flood insurance payouts, they will have the peace of mind that low-interest loans will be available at the end of the day to fill any remaining unmet needs. Along with Senators Menendez and Booker, the bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. Its companion bill has passed the House of Representatives.

Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act of 2015:

Reopens Sandy Disaster Assistance Applications

There are Sandy survivors who did not apply for disaster loans, due to: inaccurate information, a preference for grants, duplication of benefits concerns, etc. Many others believed their flood insurance proceeds and federal grants would address their unmet needs, but now find they do not have the resources to rebuild. For these reasons, the bill requires SBA to reopen the Sandy disaster assistance loan program for one year.
Safe Rooms

Use of physical damage loans to mitigate future damages from disasters is limited to protection of property. This section expands the permitted uses of physical damage loans to include safe rooms to protect from tornadoes.
Reduces Closing and Disbursement Delays

In response to avoidable delays caused by applicants not including all materials with their initial application by requiring SBA to inform applicants that submitting all application materials initially will result in faster processing times.
Disaster Plan Improvements

In response to long application processing times, SBA is required to revise its disaster response plan and develop plans to mitigate sharp increases in applications.
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