Archive for the tag 'small business administration'



Did you apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy only to realize that you could have received free cash months later through Community Development Block Grant recovery funds? If so, you probably think it is unfair that you have to pay back a loan to the government when your neighbor is getting a free ride.

SI Live is reporting that politicians are petitioning the SBA to forgive debts of people who took out loans that would have otherwise qualified for the Community Development Bock Grants.

A letter drafted by Congressman Michael Grimm, pleads for those caught in between the various federal bailout plans.

“For months after the storm, residents who went to FEMA for assistance were referred to the SBA to address needs that could not be met by FEMA’s individual assistance program,” Grimm wrote.

Some people were offered SBA disaster loans but declined because they worried about taking on more debt, and a recent decision by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development allows them to receive assistance under New York City’s “Build it Back” program, he wrote.

“It is critical, however, that we not overlook individuals who qualified for and accepted SBA loans because they felt they had no other options in their quest to recover,” Grimm wrote.

Grimm went on to write about the inherent unfairness of the situation.

“[I]ndividuals who acted precisely as the government suggested — use SBA loans to cover unmet disaster-related needs — are the ones who (are) being punished with additional debt.”

Well, I have to say that the situation does seem unfair. Did you qualify for an SBA loan and accept it? Do you wish you hadn’t? Let us know.

The Small Business Administration recently announced that it has funded over $1 billion in disaster relief loans for victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York State, touting the approval of more than 15,000 low-interest loans to help residents and business owners get back on their feet after getting slammed by the powerful late October storm.

But an analysis of loan data for five zip codes in Southern Brooklyn, an area that includes some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in New York City, shows the federal agency has funded less than 30 percent of the applications for home and business loans it has received.

Business owners in the area, and across Brooklyn, have been frustrated by what they argue is SBA’s slow response to loan requests in the aftermath of a storm that caused an estimated $20 billion in damage in the five boroughs.

And while business owners tell a different story, Andre Ledgister, a spokesman for SBA, said the agency was processing loans in an average of 21 days.

“We’re asking that everyone be patient as we process the large number of applications form this disaster,” Ledgister said, adding that SBA has approved 2,080 disaster loan applications in Brooklyn worth over $101 million. This includes nearly $68 million in loans in Southern Brooklyn.

SBA provides disaster loans to homeowners, renters, nonprofits and businesses. After Sandy, the agency sent out nearly 23,000 loan applications in the zip codes 11229, 11235, 11224, 11223 and 11214, which cover neighborhoods like Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Brighton Beach and Gravesend.

Residents and business owners in those zip codes filed 4,650 loan applications and 1,344 have been funded, for a rate of 29 percent, according to data provided to Sheepshead Bites by SBA in late February.

Alan Chavez, a spokesperson for SBA, said the agency sent out applications to “almost everybody that was damaged” by the storm, trying to cast a wide net in the badly battered neighborhoods. But Chavez said many residents and businesses in the area decided not to apply to SBA for loans.

“Some people decided not to use it,” Chavez said.

Still, among those who did apply, the funding rate was below 30 percent.

“I’m extremely disappointed in hearing those numbers,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz. “I think that SBA has extremely harsh determinations and make it extremely difficult for anyone to receive a loan from them.”

He added: “I know of storekeepers on Emmons Avenue that needed loans and didn’t apply because it was too cumbersome. And those that did jump through hoops to work with them, they are still waiting to hear from SBA.”

In the zip code 11235, SBA has received 2,108 applications and funded 456 home loans, 47 business loans and two economic injury loans, a rate of 24 percent. The loans are worth a total of $27.2 million. In 11229, SBA got 802 loan applications and funded 375 for homes and businesses, a rate of 47 percent. The loans are worth nearly $21 million.

In 11224, which covers Coney Island, SBA had received 1,468 loans applications and funded 393 for homes and businesses, a rate of about 27 percent. The approved loans in Coney Island are worth approximately $18.2 million.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a first-term Democratic congressman whose district includes Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach, credited SBA for its post-storm efforts, but said the agency needs to do more to help storm victims.

“The Small Business Administration has done the best job that they can under the enormity of the circumstances, but the nature of the disaster will require the agency to do more in the months to come,” Jeffries said.

Rick Miranda, who runs the Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber or Commerce, said SBA had been doing a good job helping businesses in the borough in the aftermath of Sandy. The Hispanic chamber is one of two organizations in Brooklyn that is certified to originate SBA loans and Miranda knows the process well. Even in normal times, without the backlog of applications Sandy generated, it can be tough to gather the paperwork needed for SBA approval. But Miranda said SBA had been responsive to his requests since Sandy, even agreeing to send more Spanish-language agents to Brooklyn to help Hispanic business owners with paperwork.

“With devastation of this magnitude, I don’t think it was negligence on behalf of the agency,” he said. “I think they’re doing the best they can.”

Still, Cymbrowitz criticized the SBA process as unresponsive to the scope of the damage Southern Brooklyn took from Sandy.

“What happens is, in order to get the loan, it had really nothing to do with the loss, but had to do with the credit of the business owner, which was never really explained to the business owner,” he said. “So the business owner, the amount of money he would receive, is really based on his credit history and not the damage he received.”

- Craig Giammona

Arbuz’ employees helped with the cleanup process, wiping down furniture days after Sandy hit.

Despite the recent passage of a $50 billion federal emergency funds package for victims of Hurricane Sandy, there is lingering skepticism in Southern Brooklyn that the aid will alleviate the ongoing struggles in this badly battered corner of the city.

Local elected officials have touted the passage of the federal aid package as a key step in the region’s recovery from a storm that caused an estimated $20 billion in damage in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to use the first installment of federal aid, about $1.8 billion, to set up grant and loan programs for homeowners and businesses badly damaged by the storm.

But after nearly four months of seeking Sandy aid from the government, some business owners and organization heads in Southern Brooklyn say the federal Small Business Administration (SBA), which makes emergency loans available to Sandy victims, has been slow to respond to the crisis.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons via Wikipedia

FEMA has shown a remarkable degree of fairness in extending its deadlines to register for disaster assistance, and it actually comes as no surprise that they have done so again.

The previous deadline was set for today February 27, but has been extended another 30 days to March 29. The deadline also extends to complete and return low-interest SBA disaster loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Here are the relevant details:

How to register with FEMA

Individuals can register with FEMA online at or via smartphone or tablet by going to or by downloading the FEMA app.

Survivors can also register by calling the FEMA Helpline: 800-621-3362 (Voice, 7-1-1/Relay) or (TTY) 800-462-7585. The line is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, seven days a week until further notice.

Anyone with questions regarding the FEMA registration process, the status of their application and available disaster assistance programs is encouraged to visit a Disaster Recovery Center or contact FEMA.

To find the nearest Disaster Recovery Center, the following options are available: Text DRC and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA), and a text message will be sent back with the address. Also, the Disaster Recovery Center locator is available online

SBA disaster loan application

A simple and fast way to complete the disaster loan application is online, using the SBA’s electronic loan application. Go to

SBA customer service representatives are available to issue or accept low-interest disaster loan applications and answer questions at all New York State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers and

SBA business recovery centers and Disaster Loan Outreach Centers. To locate the nearest center, visit or call 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339).

More information is available by calling the SBA Disaster Customer Service Center toll-free number, 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339). Assistance is also available by sending an email to or by visiting

For more information on New York’s disaster recovery,, and

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has recently extended the deadline for Superstorm Sandy victims to return their low-interest loan applications to February 27, according to a press release.

The SBA also announced the opening of a Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) in Brooklyn. The center’s purpose is to provide one-on-one assistance to renters, homeowners and businesses looking for disaster relief from losses suffered from Sandy. Here are the relevant details:

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The celebrated and beloved Totonno’s Pizzeria (1524 Neptune Avenue) has had a rough couple years in keeping its doors open. First they were hit by a fire in 2009, and more recently they were knocked out of commission by Superstorm Sandy. Still closed months after the storm struck, owners Cookie Cimineri and Antoinette Balzano have struggled to acquire the loans needed to reopen, according to a report by Serious Eats.

(UPDATE [January 17, 2013]: Totonno’s told New York Daily News that they vow to reopen, no matter what the odds.)

Apparently, Totonno’s is the victim of bad timing when it came to the loan application process. Totonno’s is still paying off the $200,000 in loans they took on from their 2009 fire, and because of this, the NYC Business Development Corporation’s denied the pizzeria’s $25,ooo loan request.

“They have to go by the last year,” Antoinette explained to Serious Eats, speaking of financial records and the loan application process. “For the last 2 years, we’ve been paying off the $200,000 loan from the fire.”

Totonno’s also applied for a $150,000 loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), but have yet to hear back from them.

All hope for Totonno’s hasn’t been lost yet, as Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz took it upon himself to get the pizzeria’s NYCBDC loan request re-reviewed.

Still, the path to reopening Totonno’s again is not easy. Antoinette lamented to Serious Eats about her dealings with unreliable mold inspectors and contractors who are draining her money but not her will.

“The last [contractor], he was a con artist. My sister didn’t get 3 cents for 11 months. How do you live when you have bills to pay? A family to feed?Totonno’s doesn’t make a lot of money. It’s about passion.”

Here’s hoping the pizza gods do all they can to keeping the city’s best pizza coming out of the oven.