Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano (all R-10) have introduced a concurrent resolution urging the President and Congress to enact legislation forgiving certain community disaster loans issued after Superstorm Sandy.
Almost eight years after Superstorm Sandy devastated NJ’s economy and with the residents facing another financial crisis, Sen. Holzapfel, Asm. McGuckin and Asm. Catalano are calling on the federal government to enact legislation forgiving some FEMA community disaster loans to municipalities. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)
Congressman Chris Smith introduced H.R. 6454 on April 3. The bill would mandate the forgiveness of certain community disaster loans secured by New Jersey municipalities from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with Superstorm Sandy recovery. This federal resolution would have a profound impact throughout New Jersey in helping stabilize the economy, and would provide much needed support to the citizens of the State in the fight against COVID-19.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lawmakers agree with Congressman Smith’s effort to help the State’s residents and businesses during the pandemic.
“New Jersey residents are resilient, as we saw in the months and years following Superstorm Sandy in 2012,” said Senator Holzapfel. “I have no doubt that we will recover from this pandemic and come back stronger than before, however, we must provide some relief to residents during this economic fallout. We must encourage the federal government to forgive loans related to Sandy and help restore our State’s economy.”
Recently, FEMA has begun to press New Jersey municipalities to start repaying the loans given out to residents and businesses to help the State’s post-Superstorm Sandy recovery.
This mandatory repayment would have a devastating effect throughout the State, as these demands come at a time when New Jersey is struggling to fight COVID-19, the legislators said. The payments on the community disaster loans were originally allowed to be paid back slowly over time, with the possibility of forgiveness.
“It’s been almost eight years since Superstorm Sandy and our residents are still feeling the financial impact of that natural disaster,” added Assemblyman McGuckin. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of our residents are out of work and many small businesses are either partially or completely shut down. Repaying this debt to FEMA is nearly impossible at a time like this. Our legislation urges Congress and the President to forgive these loans and begin to get our state’s economy back on track.”
Currently, New Jersey residents who were granted loans under the “Small Business Act” now face the possibility they may be prohibited from receiving further disaster relief aid during the COVID-19 pandemic since any new grant issued may be counted as a duplicate benefit. The bill also addresses the lingering duplication of benefit problem by removing the receipt of small business loans as a disqualifier for people who sought or received federal money to help them recover in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
“We agree with Congressman Smith’s proposal to forgive loans and ensure that small businesses in our state can apply for federal relief without the fear of being excluded,” concluded Assemblyman Catalano. “These are unprecedented times and we feel federal loans issued after Superstorm Sandy can and should be forgiven. In order to get our economy running again, it starts with small businesses and their employees who deserve better.”
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