Security/Emergency Information

FAQ’s re nonprofit disaster assistance: grants vs. loans

Some are confused about the kinds of grants and loans available to nonprofits. If you have any specific questions feel free to contact David Pollock (212.983.4800 x132) or Marcia Eisenberg (212.983.4800 x137) both can be reached at Here’s a sample of the questions coming to us:

Is my nonprofit eligible for a FEMA Public Assistance grant? Probably. If your building was damaged and your organization was an educational institution, senior citizen center, daycare center, homeless shelter, library, rehabilitation center or community center; your organization is likely to be eligible for a grant.

What if my organization provided a range of services out of the damaged building? Submit an application.  For example, many houses of worship have multiple eligible programs: e.g., community centers, libraries, senior centers or pre-schools. Once your organization submits its application, a team will be assigned to you to help you with the next steps. As of now, they plan to pro rate uninsured and underinsured damages based on the extent of your eligible programs. 

What do the grants cover? The grants cover at least 75% of an organization’s uninsured and underinsured damages and certain labor and equipment costs directly related to storm response. 

Our staff stopped their regular duties and devoted most of their time to relief and recovery efforts. Will FEMA reimburse us? Maybe. If your staff was performing eligible relief and recovery efforts in lieu of their normal duties, you can submit those costs to FEMA as part of your Request for Public Assistance. The key questions will be are these eligible relief and recovery efforts and can you document the time expended? You can also submit reasonable charges for equipment, room costs and transportation. Raise the issue with the FEMA-NY DHSES team assigned to your application and they will guide you.

Is there a deadline? December 30, 2012. Organizations should submit the complete Request for Public Assistance package (guidance on filling out the forms can be found here) ASAP. You are not considered an applicant until all documentation is submitted. If you delay submitting the package you will be further back in the queue. To help the team assigned to you, try to make your initial submission as complete as possible.

We’ve done our paperwork, filed our insurance and FEMA claims, but we need money now. What should we do?  The New York City Nonprofit Recovery Loan Program will provide critical funds (interest free) in the coming months to bridge the gap between expenditures needed to support the recovery from Hurricane Sandy and anticipated revenues such as grants, pledges, contract reimbursements, FEMA and insurance payments.

    • Priority will be given to those nonprofit organizations located or providing services in the areas of the New York City most affected by Hurricane Sandy
    • Loans will be interest-free.
    • There are no fees associated with the loan.
    • Loans may be used to cover both operating and capital costs.
    • Loans will range from  $5,000 to $100,000
    • The loans will be made against claims with the private and government insurers as well as against government contracts, foundations and corporation grants and individual support.
    • Anticipated repayment will be within eight to 15 months.
    • The Fund may ask the funder to repay the Recovery Loan Fund directly.

We need long term loans. What should we do?The Small Business Administration has two classes of loans available to nonprofits:

  • Disaster Assistance Loans. SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed. Nonprofit organizations may apply for a Physical Disaster Loan of up to $2 million (at 3% interest per year) to repair or replace damaged real estate, equipment, inventory and fixtures. The loan may be increased by as much as 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to protect the property against future disasters of the same type.
  • Economic Injury Loans. If your small business or private, nonprofit organization has suffered economic injury, regardless of physical damage, and is located in a declared disaster area, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Is there a deadline for SBA loan applications? Physical Damage: December 31, 2012 Economic Injury: July 31, 2013

We haven’t heard from our insurance carrier or FEMA. We don’t know if we’ll need a loan. What should we do? There is no cost to apply and there is no obligation to take the loan if it is offered. However those that do not submit their SBA disaster loan applications may limit their recovery options and the opportunity to be referred to other agencies.

How do we apply for an SBA loan? The U.S. Small Business Administration’s electronic loan application (ELA) is the speedy, user-friendly way for homeowners, renters and businesses to apply for a disaster loan for Hurricane Sandy damages in New York. The ELA provides a convenient alternative to visiting a Disaster Recovery Center or mailing in a paper loan application. The online program checks for errors, prompts for more information when needed and provides a quicker decision than the hand-written applications. Visit to apply online.

Posted in FEMA, Recovery, Sandy
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