WASHINGTON - Today Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Representative Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) asked the Small Business Administration (SBA) to work closely with all of the Lawrence residents devastated by the January 21st fire.  To date, six residents have applied for loans and all have been denied.  As the March 25th deadline to apply for loans draws closer, Senator Kerry and Congresswoman Tsongas encouraged the SBA to work with their offices to make sure that as many people as possible get federal disaster loans.

“Victims of the fire shouldn’t now be made victims of red tape,” said Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  “We’re working with these applicants to help them get assistance from the SBA, and we urge the agency to do make sure that they’ve turned over every stone to aid our Lawrence homeowners and small businesses.”

“It is unfortunate that families and businesses in need of assistance have thus far been denied loans from the Small Business Administration,” said Congresswoman Tsongas.  “I urge the SBA to use the upcoming six month appeal period to work with these individuals to help them identify other circumstances which could lead to the approval of their loan.  My office is currently working with individuals who have been initially denied and those who are still in the application process to ensure that their applications are complete and to identify other forms of assistance which may be available to them.  I urge any victim of the Lawrence fire to contact my office if they are in need of assistance.”

Senator Kerry has authored bipartisan legislation with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to improve the disaster loan program for homeowners and small businesses. The provisions, most recently passed by the Senate in December as part of the Farm Bill, will help expedite disaster assistance and increase the maximum size of a disaster loan from $1.5 million to $2 million. Republican leadership has refused to appoint Senators to negotiate differences between the House and Senate passed bills.

To read the full text of the letter that Senator Kerry and Rep. Tsongas sent to SBA Administrator Preston, please click here.