As Elsa approaches, some Florida lawmakers are pushing for doubling disaster credit limits



Miami Republican MP Maria Elvira Salazar has introduced a bipartisan bill doubling the limits on Small Business Administration loans to homeowners after violent storms.

Salazar is the author of the Disaster Community Recovery Act and introduced it on Tuesday as Florida prepares for Hurricane Elsa to hit the state. The bill has 35 bipartisan co-sponsors, including Miami Republican Carlos Jimenez, Treasure Coast Republican Brian Mast, and St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Christ.

The bill increases the maximum loan amount a homeowner can apply for through the Small Business Administration from $ 200,000 to $ 400,000 for home renovations and from $ 40,000 to $ 75,000 for replacement household and personal property.

Salazar’s office said the current restrictions have been in effect since 1994, and the increase better reflects current housing prices and damage needs following severe storms.

“We are in the midst of hurricane season and in South Florida we know all too well how these storms can completely destroy our homes,” Salazar said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to ensure that our coastal communities have access to all the resources provided by the SBA to safely rebuild their homes in the event of a disaster. Disaster relief loans need to be upgraded to reflect the rising value of homes in our communities. ”

SBA Disaster Relief Loans are open to anyone in a declared disaster area, not just small business owners. SBA loans are designed to complement other forms of assistance, such as FEMA assistance or flood insurance, and are designed to help homeowners recover after other forms of assistance and credit have been exhausted.

Disaster loans, which have a maximum rate of 4%, cannot be used to purchase holiday or second home property, or to add a home. A homeowner can receive up to a 20 percent increase in the current loan amount to pay for improvements that prevent the risk of property loss in the event of a future disaster, such as hurricane-resistant windows or a sump pump.

Salazar’s office said 80 percent of the SBA’s Disaster Relief Authority loans go to individuals and households, not businesses, to help them recover from disasters.

In Florida, the SBA provided more than $ 300 million in disaster relief loans after Hurricane Irma damaged the entire state in 2017.


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