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File photo/QNS
File photo/QNS
The five-alarm fire that broke out in Elmhurst in April is believed to have spread due to cocklofts in the building.

Residents and business owners who suffered damages during a catastrophic five-alarm blaze at an Elmhurst apartment building in April can get some help from the federal government.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced on June 14 that it will make low-interest loans available to businesses and residents affected by the April 11 blaze that severely damaged a seven-story apartment house on 94th Street near 56th Avenue.

More than 100 families were displaced as a result of the inferno, which fire marshals determined was ignited by an open flame left near combustible material. A contractor, Declan Mcelhatton of Yonkers, was subsequently charged with arson and reckless endangerment.

Displaced residents, fearing that they won’t be allowed to return, have also filed legal action to compel the building’s management to expedite repairs after being informed it could take up to a year to complete.

According to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, the disaster loan declaration came at the behest of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who sent her a letter on June 6 requesting that the SBA lend a hand to the fire victims.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of New York with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” McMahon said. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

Businesses and nonprofit groups can apply for loans of up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed items essential to their operations. Individual homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 for repairs, and homeowners and tenants can borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property damaged in the blaze.

Interest rates for the loan — with a maximum term of 30 years — could be as low as 3.15% for businesses, 2.5% for nonprofit groups and 1.875% for homeowners and renters. The rates and terms of the loans are set based on SBA criteria and each applicant’s financial condition.

All applications for physical property damage loans must be submitted by Aug. 11. Click here to apply for an emergency loan, or for more information, call 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice[@]sba.gov. Completed applications must be mailed to the U.S. Small Business Administration Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

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