Menendez, Booker Hail Final Passage of Bill to Expand Access to Low-Interest Federal Disaster Loans for Sandy Homeowners and Small Businesses

Menendez, Booker Hail Final Passage of Bill to Expand Access to Low-Interest Federal Disaster Loans for Sandy Homeowners and Small Businesses


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) today applauded final passage of the Menendez-authored Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act that would extend, expand and improve access to federal disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  The measure passed the House last night and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

“This law I authored will enable Sandy survivors to access low-interest, long-term loans to repair homes and businesses damaged by the storm,” said Sen. Menendez.  “I’m proud to have passed yet another piece of legislation that will help New Jerseyans get back on their feet and move our state closer to a complete recovery from Sandy.  More than three years since Superstorm Sandy, there is still much work that needs to be done for struggling families and businesses to fully recover, and I will continue to fight for them until the job is done.”

“This bill takes an important step toward providing homeowners and small businesses devastated by Superstorm Sandy access to the much-needed capital they need to rebuild,” said Sen. Booker. “As a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, I understand New Jersey’s small businesses are an economic engine and vital to job growth in our state — we must ensure their recovery remains a priority as we rebuild.”

Menendez wrote the bill in response to findings by both the Government Accountability Office and the SBA Inspector General’s Office that SBA failed to meet timeliness and accuracy standards when responding to Hurricane Sandy.  As Sandy survivors continue to wait for RREM rebuilding grants and full flood insurance payouts, they will have the peace of mind that low-interest loans will be available at the end of the day to fill any remaining unmet needs.  The bill is also co-sponsored by Sens. Booker, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y). 

Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act of 2015:

Reopens Sandy Disaster Assistance Applications

  • There are Sandy survivors who did not apply for disaster loans, due to: inaccurate information, a preference for grants, duplication of benefits concerns, etc.  Many others believed their flood insurance proceeds and federal grants would address their unmet needs, but now find they do not have the resources to rebuild.  For these reasons, the bill requires SBA to reopen the Sandy disaster assistance loan program for one year.  

Safe Rooms

  • Use of physical damage loans to mitigate future damages from disasters is limited to protection of property.  This section expands the permitted uses of physical damage loans to include safe rooms to protect from tornadoes.

Reduces Closing and Disbursement Delays

  • In response to avoidable delays caused by applicants not including all materials with their initial application by requiring SBA to inform applicants that submitting all application materials initially will result in faster processing times.

Disaster Plan Improvements

  • In response to long application processing times, SBA is required to revise its disaster response plan and develop plans to mitigate sharp increases in applications.

The Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act represents just the latest federal effort lead by Sen. Menendez to address the issues arising in the aftermath of Sandy, and to aide New Jersey’s recovery.  In 2013, he shepherded the original $60 billion federal Sandy aid package through Congress.  His Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act was signed into law in 2014 to address skyrocketing rates many Sandy survivors were encountering.  He has chaired the Sandy Task Force, with Sens. Booker, Schumer and Gillibrand, exploring short- and long-term reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program.  During Congressional hearings he chaired, Sen. Menendez first exposed the problem of widespread lowballing of flood insurance claims and, earlier this year, successfully pushed FEMA to reopen every Sandy flood insurance claim for review

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