NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco residents who suffered financial losses due to physical damage caused by Hurricane Ian can apply for financial assistance from the Small Business Administration, Stephen Clark, public affairs specialist for the agency, told the City Council at its meeting Nov. 15.
The deadline to apply has been extended to Jan. 12.
The SBA is offering low-interest, long-term loans to businesses, nonprofits, homeowners and renters whose property was damaged because of the late-September storm. This includes, for example, exterior or interior damage to structures, including primary residences and second homes if they are used for business, including rental income. Vehicles that are not luxury vehicles and items inside buildings, such as furniture (with limits on luxury items such as antiques) qualify. Mobile homes are considered not real estate, but the personal property of the person who holds the deed.
Applicants need to demonstrate the disaster caused the damage, that they have an acceptable credit history, and that they can repay the loans. Interest rates are lower for people who do not have other credit available.
Although people can apply online at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov, Clark encouraged people to meet with an SBA representative in person at one of two area Disaster Recovery Centers. Representatives from FEMA will also be in the centers, making the application for disaster assistance a “one-stop shop.”
The nearest centers are at the Lealman Exchange, 5175 45th St. N in St. Petersburg, which is open seven days a week (closed for Thanksgiving) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and the Chloe Coney Urban Enterprise Center, 1907 E. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa, open seven days a week (excluding Thanksgiving), from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For information on what to bring to the disaster center, or for other information, visit sba.gov/disaster, or call 800-659-2955.
The SBA is also offering Economic Impact Disaster Loans to those who suffered nonphysical losses (such as having to close a business because of lack of power or staff unable to come in), but the deadline for those loans is in June.
Also at the council meeting, River Road residents who live near the site of a Nov. 4 drive-by shooting of two women — who were shot while in a car that also contained children — pleaded with the city to clean up their neighborhood and offered suggestions for action.
The residents, at least one of whom said they’d lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, described years, if not decades, of rampant drug activity and violence in their neighborhood, which they said stemmed mostly from two buildings they characterized as drug dens as well as, on occasion, bicycle chop shops. They said they have been complaining about incessant traffic, including late at night; women being beat up in driveways; cars with invalid tags; overdose deaths; and at least one previous shooting.
Residents said they were willing to work with the city to implement any measures that would help clean up their neighborhood.
They suggested forming a Neighborhood Watch; having the city declare the two houses in question nuisance properties, which could lead to foreclosure; installing surveillance cameras in the area; and improving lighting; but added they were open to ideas.
In other business
Mayor Rob Marlowe, on behalf of the city, issued proclamations recognizing Small Business Saturday (Nov. 29) and Native American Heritage Month (all of November). Eric Mullins was also appointed to the Cultural Affairs Committee.