Velázquez Works to Expedite Disaster Relief for Small Businesses

Nov 16, 2017

Washington, DC –As local businesses and homeowners across Puerto Rico, Houston and Florida continue the long road to recovery, House Committee on Small Business Ranking Member Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) is working to break down barriers to federal assistance. After Superstorm Sandy, federal law prevented small firms who took out a disaster loan from receiving Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding (CDBG-DR). As small businesses work to recover from this year’s devastating hurricanes, Velázquez is taking from the lessons of Sandy and working to open the doors to both sources of relief aid.

“A natural disaster is devastating for small businesses, as a storm has the power to wash away their entire livelihood, and for property owners who often lose their single greatest investment,” said Velázquez. “A few weeks or months in lost revenue is too often the reason why small firms must make the unbearable decision to close their doors. Congress must ensure that every last penny of federal assistance is available to help them stay open and rebuild, while helping homeowners recover.”

In a declared federal disaster zone, CDBG-DR funding is made available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which local government agencies can then grant to businesses, nonprofits and homeowners. These funds are allocated by Congress and are used to spur long-term sustainable economic recovery following a natural disaster. Currently, when disaster strikes, small businesses and homeowners that apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan are ineligible for CDBG-DR funds should they become available in the following months.

After Superstorm Sandy, the second costliest storm on record, small business owners and homeowners were left with enormous damage. Facing a lack of adequate assistance to rebuild, small firms who applied for and received SBA disaster loans were blocked from additionally receiving CDBG-DR funding. Velázquez’s bill H.R. 4368, eliminates this problem by allowing for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief Funds to be used to repay an SBA disaster loan.

“It is morally imperative that we close this gap and open all doors to relief and assistance that will benefit our local small businesses and homeowners,” said Velázquez.