SBA disaster loans available for all Hawaii residents, business owners impacted by wildfires
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - To date, the federal government has given out more than $77 million in low-interest loans to help repair disaster-damaged real estate, vehicles and personal property and sustain business owners across the state who’ve lost income. The head of the Small Business Administration Isabella Casillas Guzman spoke to HNN about how folks can apply for federal relief.
“We provide up to $2 million to businesses and economic injury and physical disaster injury to help them recover and rebuild. These are affordable loans that are available to small businesses with 30 year terms,” she said.
“It’s taking about a week to process these loans. And then those funds are available. And with new added changes in the program, we’re able to offer up to 12 months of deferred payments and zero interest for the entire period, giving them time to really strategize and rethink what they’re going to do with the funding to rebuild,” she added.
Interest rates start at 4% for business owners and 2.3% for nonprofits. Interest begins to accrue 12 months from the date of the first disaster loan disbursement Repayment also starts after a year.
Some applicants told HNN the process of proving their credit worthiness has been tedious and frustrating, especially if they lost key documents in the fire, such as tax returns. SBA urges them to talk to a representative for help.
“The Hawaii Small Business Development Center, that’s helping businesses navigate the process, figure out what paperwork to present, we have our Maui Economic Development Board, one of our funded community navigator partners who are on the ground ready to assist businesses with the SBA process. And in addition, we have score Maui with literally 24/7 availability with mentors from across the country, filling in to make sure that they can help small businesses with whatever questions they might have. And of course, our business recovery centers,” Guzman said.
Still, many fire survivors say they’re still waiting for relief or have been denied.
“For those people who have gone through the process, but have received a denial, you know, we want to continue to work with you. You have up to six months to reapply into this program, we can help you get credit ready, tried to correct anything in the application so that you can resubmit, we want to make sure that you can connect to capital to rebuild, whether that’s you know, whether that’s immediately fixing those corrections or trying to address issues in your credit score. And we’ve partnered on the ground with organizations like Operation Hope to try to ensure that small businesses have resources to to improve their credit and get ready,” Guzman said.
And for those with limited English language skills, or have difficulty understanding legal language and paperwork, Guzman said: “We’re translating into multiple languages, all of our documents and trying to provide that customer service at the highest level to people who walk in those doors. And when if somebody’s on site, we’re trying to have as many people available as possible to translate into different languages on site on premises at our business recovery centers. But if not, then we will connect to a customer service, individual who can help in language, we know that this has to be not only in language, but also culturally sensitive. And so we’ve partnered as well with the Council for Native Hawaiian Americans to make sure that we that we are supportive of them in their business recovery center and their operations. They’ve set up a center. And so we’ve embedded with them, and there’s so that we can provide assistance that’s culturally sensitive as well.”
As for homeowners and renters, they can apply for up to 500,000 in physical disaster loan products.
“We are there to supplement insurance products whenever possible, or provide enough financing, as much as financing as possible,” Guzman said. “In addition, you can get up to $100,000 for that, those personal belongings, those personal effects, and so it’s a total of up to $600,000 that’s available, for individuals, homeowners and renters.
“We want to try to make sure that we can provide you with the funding to help ease the burden and help you not only survive, but thrive into the future,” she added.
You have until October 10th to apply for a physical damage loan, and until May 10, 2024, to apply for an economic injury loan.
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at sba.gov/hawaii-wildfires.
For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
For in-person assistance, visit one of these disaster recovery centers. No appointment is necessary.
LAHAINA, MAUI COUNTY
- Lahaina Civic Center, 1840 Honoapiilani Hwy (HI-30), Lahaina
- Daily 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
LAHAINA, MAUI COUNTY
- Portable Loan Outreach Center, Maui Resorts Rentals, 30 Halawai Dr., Lahaina
- Mondays - Saturdays, 9. a.m. – 5 p.m.
KAHULUI, MAUI COUNTY
- University of Hawaii Maui College, Building 2205, Communications Services, Room 310 W, Kaahumanu Avenue, Kahului
- Daily 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
KAHULUI, MAUI COUNTY
- Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Kakoo Maui Resource Hub, 70 Ka’ahumanu Avenue in Kahului
- Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily..
KIHEI, MAUI COUNTY
- Hawaii Technology Development Corporation, Maui Research Technology Center Building #A, Ste. 119, 590 Lipoa Pkwy., Kihei
- Mondays - Fridays, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU
- Hawaii Foreign - Trade Zone No. 9, 521 Ala Moana Blvd., Ste. # 201, Pier 2, Honolulu
- Mondays - Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
- Kaua’i Federal Credit Union’s new community space in Kapa’a (former Otsuka Furniture building)
- 1624 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa
- Mondays – Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
HAWAII COUNTY (Opens Monday, September 18 at 8 a m.)
- West Hawaii Civic Center, next to the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Office
- 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Kailua-Kona
- Mondays – Fridays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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