The Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management on Monday announced the opening of a virtual loan outreach center designed to help provide relief for residents and business owners impacted by severe rainstorms that turned streets into rivers, flooded homes, and destroyed properties in Colorado Springs and El Paso County in June.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is opening disaster loan outreach centers in Elbert, Lincoln and Logan counties in the coming weeks, but officials at the Pikes Peak OEM chose to open a virtual center to provide greater flexibility and accessibility, especially for people living in rural areas.
“We have such a big county, and the storm damage was so widespread, we chose the virtual option instead of having people drive in from, say, Calhan, to talk about applying for a loan,” said Andrew Notbohm, director of the Pikes Peak OEM. “The virtual center gives everybody the same access.”
Businesses of any size and private nonprofits could be eligible to borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace real estate or business assets – including inventory, machinery and equipment – that was destroyed in the June storms, officials said. Impacted homeowners can apply for a disaster loan of up to $500,000 to repair or replace damaged real estate, and could be eligible for a loan of up to $100,000 to recoup losses of personal property, including personally-owned vehicles.
“That can include repair to privately owned roads and driveways,” Notbohm said. “For example, if your driveway was washed out, you can get a loan to put in a culvert, or make a bigger culvert.”
The loans are low-interest, with rates as low as 4% for businesses, 2.375% for private nonprofits and 2.5% for homeowners and renters, with terms of up to 30 years. Amounts and terms are set by SBA on a case-by-case basis, officials said.
“It’s a low-interest loan that can help keep a business from going under, or help a homeowner replace property that was destroyed,” Notbohm said. “It’s a good program.”
Interest on the loans doesn’t begin to accrue until 12 months from the date of the first loan disbursement, according to a Monday news release.
The Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center will be open five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Customer service representatives will be on hand answer questions about the loan program and help with the application process, the release stated.
“The loan officer will be someone here, who is local and knows the area,” Notbohm said.
Colorado Springs and El Paso County residents who believe they could be eligible can contact the outreach center by phone at (916) 735-1501, or by email at FOCWAssistance@sba.gov. The deadline to apply for property damage is Dec. 26; the deadline to apply for “economic injury” is July 25, 2024.
“Even if you’re slightly interested, or if you think you might be eligible, call just to make sure, and you can talk to someone who will help you decide if this is the right choice for you,” Notbohm said.