News report

Austin residents displaced by building explosion can apply for loans to cover damage and rebuild

AUSTIN — Dozens of families displaced after a natural gas explosion in Austin last month can apply for up to $200,000 in low-interest loans to pay for damages not covered by insurance, officials said this week local.

The US Small Business Association has approved a disaster declaration for the explosion that occurred at 5601 W. West End Ave. on September 20, Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday.

One man was killed and seven injured after the blast shattered the roof of the 35-unit apartment building and left bricks and other debris strewn on the ground. The explosion was caused by “natural gas ignition”, firefighters said.

A temporary Disaster Loan Awareness Center is being established at Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St. Displaced residents can come to the center beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday for help filling out loan applications, officials said.

The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Indigenous Peoples Day, October 10.

The center closes permanently at 4 p.m. on October 20.

Homeowners can apply for up to $200,000 in low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Landlords or tenants can claim up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million for property damage.

More loan details are available here.

“Illinois is very grateful to the SBA as it will help these families rebuild their lives,” said Alicia Tate-Nadeau, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. “Some of these residents lost not only the structure of their homes, but everything they owned. I encourage all residents affected by the explosion to apply for one of these loans.

“We are grateful to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency for its continued efforts to help Chicago residents who were impacted by this explosion,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “The increased availability of loans will provide residents with another option to consider in their collective journey to recovery.”

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