Broke in Philly

Apply now: New loans for businesses or homes damaged during chaos that followed early Philly protests

At Gov. Wolf’s request, the SBA made a special disaster declaration, opening up new relief funds.

A passerby observes the scene in Center City on the morning of May 31

A passerby observes the scene in Center City on the morning of May 31

Jim MacMillan

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If your home or business was damaged during the vandalism or arson that followed many of the early days of protests in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties, there’s a new opportunity to access money to fix things up.

The federal Small Business Administration approved Governor Tom Wolf’s request for a special disaster declaration for the events between May 30 and June 8.

Hundreds of city properties were damaged during that time period, in multiple neighborhoods. Retail establishments were battered on 52nd Street, big box stores were broken into and robbed in Port Richmond, boutique shops had windows smashed in Rittenhouse. Over the course of the week, millions of dollars in damage was sustained across the city, adding to difficulties already brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Various local, state and charity funds have provided some relief — and now there’s a new pot of low-interest federal loans available for homeowners, renters and business proprietors.

The SBA disaster assistance is available not just in Philly, but also to people and places affected during that time frame in Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

Loans will take a few different forms, with repayment terms of up to 30 years:

  • Up to $200k to repair or replace personal real estate
  • Up to $40k to repair or replace personal property, including cars
  • Up to $2 million to restore business property, including equipment and inventory
  • Also available for biz owners: loans to cover costs like payroll and other bills affected by the disaster’s impact

Applications opened at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 10, and can be submitted online (use code PA-00106) or printed out and sent via mail.

They’ll be approved on a case-by-case basis, according to Wolf’s office. The deadline for a property damage claim is Oct. 6, while economic injury loans related to this can be filed all the way through May 7, 2021.

There’s also a special help center set up by the SBA to assist folks with the process.

Called the “Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center,” it’s open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and can be reached via email at FOCE-Help@sba.gov or by phone at 202-803-3307 or 470-363-5936. People who have hearing challenges can call 800-877-8339.

Social justice protests have continued in Philadelphia at a steady drumbeat, but looting and vandalism — which are not necessarily connected to these activist movements — have not happened on a widespread basis in the Philadelphia region since early June. That’s not been the case in some other U.S. cities; hundreds rushed through Chicago’s main shopping district smashing windows and robbing stores early this Monday morning.

Want some more? Explore other Broke in Philly stories.

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