Low-Interest SBA Loans for Reno County Cottonwood Complex Fire Victims

Representatives of the Small Business Administration took to the mezzanine floor of the Reno County Courthouse to receive applications from residents or businesses affected by the Cottonwood Complex fire for low-interest federal loans.

The loans are intended to help homeowners or tenants who suffered a loss in the March 5 fire and who were uninsured or underinsured, said Barbara Nitis, public information officer at the SBA.

Businesses that lost property or suffered a loss of revenue between March 5 and March 16 due to the fires are also eligible, she said.

“Homeowners can get up to $200,000 to repair physical damage,” said Nitis, a New Jersey native who was at Hutchinson this week to promote assistance. “The loan will cover the deductible and there will be no closing costs.”

Loans can also be used to replace a primary vehicle.

A separate loan of up to $40,000 is available to replace personal effects lost in the fire, “for anything inside the house,” Nitis said, noting that “that’s where the tenants come into play”.

Interest rates can be as low as 1.43% for homeowners and tenants, and 1.87% for private nonprofit organizations, with loan terms of up to 30 years.

The SBA sets loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial situation.

Business loans are available for up to $2 million, at rates as low as 2.94%, to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and working capital if the business has been closed during the 10-day period.

The SBA can also lend funds to homeowners and businesses to help cover the cost of improvements to protect, prevent, or minimize the same type of future disaster damage.

While VOAD (Reno County Volunteers Active in Disasters) deals with long-term needs, they found that many of those affected by the fire were uninsured or underinsured, the managing director said. of Reno County ER, Adam Weishaar. So they asked for help from the SBA.

“They sent someone who toured the area and we asked the SBA to declare a disaster,” he said.

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The fire destroyed 35 homes in Reno County and one in Harvey County. Officials said the fire also affected eight businesses, Nitis said, although she could not provide details of those losses.

To qualify for the aid, at least 25 houses had to be destroyed.

Residents and businesses in Harvey, Kingman, McPherson, Pratt, Rice, Sedgwick and Stafford counties can also apply for loans if they are affected by the fires.

Two customer service representatives will be in the courthouse from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday for at least two weeks, and potentially beyond, Nitis said, “depending on people’s needs.”

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They can answer questions about the disaster loan program, explain the application process and help complete applications, Nitis said. No appointment is necessary.

People can also apply online at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ or by calling 800-659-2995. The deadline for applying for a home loan is June 21 and for an economic injury loan is January 23, 2023.

Nita encourages residents to get information and complete a loan to see if they qualify, with no obligation to accept the loan.

On Wednesday, SBA customer service representative Richard Smigelski of California occupies a desk on the mezzanine floor of the Reno County Courthouse.  The federal agency is in Hutchinson for at least two weeks to help victims of the Cottonwood Complex fire apply for low-interest loans to replace homes and property lost in the March 5 fire.

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