Residents and business owners in Kingwood and Harris County who were affected by the May 7-8 flooding can apply for low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to a July 11 news release from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s office.
Eligible homeowners can apply for SBA loans of up to $200,000 to repair or replace real estate damaged or destroyed by the storms, winds and flooding. Businesses, private nonprofit organizations and renters are also eligible to apply for disaster assistance, according to the release.
“Residents in Kingwood were devastated in the aftermath of these storms, and we are pleased that they will now be able to access this much-needed assistance,” Hidalgo said in the release.
Hidalgo said it was difficult to secure federal disaster assistance because although hundreds of homes were damaged in early May, the number of homes affected was “barely enough to draw down this aid.”
According to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, 474 single-family and two multifamily structures in Harris County were affected by the May floods.
Additionally, the federal assistance threshold is roughly $15 million to receive federal aid, but the county received roughly $1.6 million in damage, according to Hidalgo’s office.
“The process for obtaining federal disaster assistance all too often ignores the reality of what’s happening on the ground,” Hidalgo said. “Until the federal government addresses this issue and lowers the thresholds for aid, we run the risk in future incidents of hard-hit residents being left without key federal assistance.”
Francisco Sánchez, Harris County’s deputy emergency management coordinator, said via email that counties are eligible for the assistance program if at least 25 homes of primary residences and/or businesses have experienced uninsured losses of 40% or more of their fair replacement value. While Harris County did not meet this threshold, the county was able to receive the assistance because it shares a border with Fort Bend County, which met the federally defined damage threshold, Sánchez said.
“After extensive damage assessments, Harris County damage did not meet that threshold. However, counties are also eligible if they share a border with another county that meets this qualification,” he said. “Harris County officials worked with local, state and federal partners to advocate for disaster assistance. We strongly urge residents that were impacted to visit the SBA assistance center to explore what options they may have.”
Residents and business owners can also apply for an SBA loan online at www.disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Customer service representatives are also available to assist applicants who call 1-800-659-2955 or email email@example.com.