Wolf calls for declaration of disaster for Philadelphia arson amid social unrest


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is seeking financial assistance and compensation for victims of arson attacks during a period of recent civil unrest in Philadelphia.

The fires that were started during the George Floyd protests in late May and early June could have caused millions of dollars in damage to properties in Philadelphia.

Wolf filed for a disaster declaration for Philadelphia from the US Small Business Administration on Thursday to seek compensation in the form of loans for victims of arson. The request has not yet been approved.

Governor Wolf said in a statement that the loans would ease any additional burdens that arson may have caused on top of the dire financial impact of COVID-19.

“The pandemic has already created significant financial hardship for Commonwealth businesses,” Wolf said in a statement. “The additional financial damage caused by these incidents in Philadelphia has only made the problem worse, which is why these low interest loans are so desperately needed.”

In Governor Wolf’s official letter to the SBA, Wolf argued that Philly should receive the necessary disaster declaration for loans due to the extent of damage to several buildings.

“Damage in Philadelphia County meets SBA criteria for at least 25 homes and / or businesses with uninsured losses of 40% or more of their estimated fair market value,” Wolf wrote in the official letter.

The destruction in Philadelphia was focused on Walnut and Chestnut streets in the downtown area, where many downtown stores were looted. Businesses in the West Philadelphia 52nd Street Corridor were also damaged.

The statement would provide compensation to homeowners, businesses and nonprofits in the form of low-interest SBA loans. Some of the loans offered by the SBA have repayment terms of up to 30 years.

Damage caused by fires started during the 10-day period from May 30 to June 8 would be covered. Most of the arson causing damage occurred during this period of protests.

The Philadelphia Fire Department responded to at least 95 fires between that 10-day period, the Inquirer reported. About 30 of these fires are investigated as arson.

Loans ranging from $ 40,000 to $ 2 million would be available for owners of damaged property.

Damaged personal property such as vehicles could be provided in the form of loans of up to $ 40,000, homeowners could obtain up to $ 200,000 for damaged real estate, and businesses and nonprofits could borrow. up to $ 2 million through “physical disaster loans”.

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