Federal loans on offer for those hit by December tornado

The U.S. Small Business Administration will be at the Port Orchard Church of Christ through February 7.

PORT ORCHARD — The U.S. Small Business Administration is setting up shop at a local church this week to help administer low-interest federal loans to businesses and homeowners affected by the Dec. 18 tornado.

Following a request by Gov. Jay Inslee, on Jan. 24 the SBA declared it would offer low-interest disaster loans – at rates between 2 to 4 percent for homeowners and 3.74 percent to 7.48 percent for businesses – to those who suffered property damage and other harms as a result of the twister.

Rates are determined based on need and whether the applicant has other credit sources, according to an SBA fact sheet.

On Tuesday, the SBA set up a temporary office at the Port Orchard Church of Christ, at 4135 Carr Lane SE, to aid homeowners, nonprofit administrators and business owners in the process of applying for federal help. The Disaster Loan Outreach Center will be open every weekday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. through Feb. 7.

“We’d like to help as many people as we can who were affected by the tornado,” said Burl Kelton, an SBA public affairs specialist.

Under the program, disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners whose homes were damaged in the recent twister, which registered wind speeds between 120-130 mph and damaged at least 50 buildings, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. Renters are also eligible for assistance.

Businesses can apply for property damage loans as well as “economic injury disaster loans,” which can be used to meet “ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.”

Loan applicants will be subject to a credit check, and collateral will be required for loans over $25,000 if it is available, the SBA said.

More information can be found on the SBA’s disaster loan webpage. Applicants can also call the SBA customer service line at (800) 659-2955.

The deadline to apply for a physical damage loan is March 26. The deadline to apply for an economic injury loan is October 25.

—Gabe Stutman is a reporter with the Kitsap News Group. Follow him on Twitter @kitsapgabe.