Build it Back isn’t the only government-sponsored aid program that has failed to distribute money to those hit by Superstorm Sandy. More than 330 small businesses that were affected by Sandy are still waiting for federal money meant to help them recover, according to DNAinfo.
The federally-funded NYC Hurricane Sandy Loan & Grant program has about $42 million intended to be distributed in loans of up to $150,000, and grants of up to $60,000, to any business in the city that needed help to get their business up and running again. The program started last June.
So far, however, only eight business owners have received any money, according to the city’s Department of Small Business Services, the agency that is administering the program.
The eight businesses that have received money have gotten a total of $2.5 million, the SBS said.
The money for the loan and grant is meant to go toward working capital — cash used for payroll, marketing, utilities and rent — as well as purchasing moveable equipment.
But many owners said because of the delay in processing their applications, they’ve already had to invest a large amount of cash to buy all their new equipment, and get their business off the ground — all of which has left them with debt that these federal funds can’t help with.
When it was announced that Build it Back, the city-run program for property owners, hadn’t actually given any money out, city officials blamed unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork for slowing down the problem.
This time, officials blame the delay on strict, anti-fraud laws. DNAinfo reports:
Officials from the Department of Small Business Services acknowledged to DNAinfo New York that the application process for the federal funds has been long and complicated. After fraudulent use of federal money following disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the government has become even stricter in how they distribute relief funds, officials said.
According to SBS officials, out of more than 335 applications submitted, 143 applications are currently with the lender that decides on the loan and grant amounts, the final step in the process, and should be approved soon. Another 40 are in the final review phase with the SBS, before they are sent to the lender, and 155 applications are in earlier stages of the process.
If you have a small business and want to apply to the grant, the guidelines can be found here. For those who have already applied for the grant and loan program, the SBS and mayor’s office said they are working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to try and get the loan and grants out more quickly. They’re also hoping to remove the cap on the amount of funding a business can receive.