New Jersey renters, homeowners and business owners still recovering from Superstorm Sandy damage are being encouraged to apply for disaster assistance loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

A house sits abandoned two years after Superstorm Sandy in Ortley Beach on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Richard Daigle, SBA public affairs specialist, said more than $1.5 million has been approved in loans since the application process was reopened to those with limited financial resources.

Daigle said many of the people applying now either didn't meet the first deadline or weren't approved at that time based on their financial situation.

Applicants that have already been approved for a loan, but find themselves in need of more money, can also reapply.

Sandy victims have until Dec. 1 to apply for financial help, but Daigle said they shouldn't wait until then because the earlier the application is submitted, the sooner the SBA could potentially approve assistance.

"If they apply and we approve them, then we're going to provide the funds that they need to cover those damages that were not covered by insurance or other resources," Daigle said.

The SBA can offer a greater amount of money than a grant, according to Daigle.

"For homeowners, for example, the SBA can lend up to $240,000 to repair and rebuild their home and replace their contents, up to $40,000 for a renter and up to $2 million for a business owner," said Daigle.

The terms of the loan can be up to 30 years and the interest rates for home loans could be as low as 1.688 percent, according to Daigle.

The interest rates are also low. Daigle said for nonprofit organizations the interest rate is 3 percent and it's 4 percent for businesses.

Anyone who is approved for a SBA disaster assistance loan is not obligated to take the loan.

"They can sit on the fence, if you will, for a period of time and decide whether or not they want to use the loan," added Daigle.

SBA centers are currently open Monday through Friday in seven locations statewide, including Atlantic, Ocean, Monmouth, Essex, Union, Hudson and Bergen counties. No appointment is necessary.

Applicants can apply online using the Electronic Loan Application on SBA's secure website at https://www.sba.gov/content/apply-disaster-loan, or by calling the SBA at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan applications also can be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster.

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