Press release 23- 51

SBA Announces Its First Rural Communities Act Disaster Declarations

Disaster declarations in rural parts of Alabama, Nevada, and California are first under new law implemented in June

WASHINGTONToday, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced the agency’s first disaster declarations leveraging the Rural Communities Act, which expanded access to affordable federal disaster loans in rural communities. Businesses and residents affected by recent disasters in Alabama, Nevada, and California are now eligible for low-interest SBA disaster loans under this new assistance expansion.

“When disaster strikes, the Biden-Harris administration is fully committed to helping those affected recover and rebuild. The SBA’s new disaster declaration process for rural communities will allow us to deliver crucial resources to those impacted, no matter where they are,” said Administrator Guzman. “These are the first declarations that will benefit from the Rural Communities Act, bipartisan legislation signed by President Biden, which will ensure that more small businesses, nonprofits, renters, and homeowners in disaster-impacted communities in Nevada and across the U.S. can access SBA’s disaster assistance so they can focus on rebuilding their communities.”

These are the first rural declarations following the implementation in June of the Rural Communities Act, which authorized the SBA to simplify the process for a governor or tribal government chief executive to request an agency disaster declaration in counties with rural communities that have experienced significant damage. Prior to this implementation, the SBA could make an agency declaration based on damage to at least 25 homes, businesses, or other eligible institutions. Now, a declaration can be made with only one damaged property in a rural area when the county has received a major disaster declaration from the President for Public Assistance.

“The Rural Communities Act grants SBA additional disaster declaration authority to assist underserved communities in rural areas with significant damage. Rural communities face unique challenges in recovering from economic hardships of a disaster given the limited availability of resources, and the SBA is here to help fill those gaps,” said Francisco Sánchez, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience.

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. 

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

As a result of new SBA new rules enacted July 31, disaster loans up to $500,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. In addition, homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $100,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property, including personal vehicles. The SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize future disaster damage. 

Interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.375 percent for private nonprofit organizations, and 2.375 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. Interest does not begin to accrue until 12 months from the date of the first disaster loan disbursement. SBA disaster loan repayment begins 12 months from the date of the first disbursement.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information, and download applications at Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply in Nevada for property damage is Oct. 10, 2023, and the deadline for economic injury is May 8, 2024. The application deadline in Alabama for property damage is Oct. 10, 2023, and May 13, 2024, for economic injury. Likewise, the deadline to apply for the two declarations in California is Oct. 10, 2023, for property damage and May 9, 2024, for economic injury.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit