Applications for disaster assistance to repair damage from the Whittier Narrows earthquake will be accepted for two additional weeks, until Dec. 19, federal and state officials announced Thursday.
Even though 27,664 applications are in and about $34 million in individual grants and loans has already been approved, spokesmen said there are signs that many hundreds of people who would be eligible for relief have not yet come forward. The application deadline had originally been Dec. 7.
They noted that about 300 applications have been coming in each day this week, some from people who have already repaired comparatively minor damage to their homes or property but were not aware that they could obtain help.
Thursday's announcement means that for two more weeks the two remaining Disaster Application Centers--at the Whittier Quad Mall, 8442 Quad Way in Whittier, and the Harvard Recreation Center, 1535 West 62nd St., Los Angeles--will continue to operate daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Sunday. In addition, a toll-free hot line, at 1-800-338-7693, will continue to operate Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
'A Lot of Money'
"Our aim is to get the people in," said Charles Raudebaugh, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Maybe it's only $100, but for some people $100 is a lot of money."
He said that most people choose to go to the centers, where they are given assistance in filling out applications and can confer with representatives of various agencies involved in the relief effort. Less than 10% of the applications have come in over the telephone.
Raudebaugh gave this update on the aid program:
- Of 18,998 applications for minimal assistance to make damaged homes habitable or pay temporary rents, the federal and state authorities, working together, have processed 18,071 and so far have issued 11,500 grant checks totaling $5.8 million, an average of just under $500.
- Of 6,591 applications submitted for Small Business Administration loans to make larger repairs of homes and businesses, 1,517 loans have thus far been issued for a total of $24.7 million. About six out of seven of these were home loans. The processing time for applications is four to six weeks, so many more approvals are expected.
- Of 5,459 applications for individual family grants, 3,557 have so far been approved for a total amount of about $3.4 million, and 1,273 are still being processed. About $2.4 million has already been disbursed, with another $1 million in approved disbursements expected in the next 10 days to two weeks.
Under the relief program, the federal government and the state are splitting the cost of the grants program, up to $5,000, on a 75%-to-25% basis. Those requiring more than $5,000 are then eligible for up to $10,000 in further grants from the state alone, under the aid package approved by the Legislature. However, so far only 25 parties have needed more than $5,000.
$10 Million Available
Charlotte Button, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Emergency Services, said Thursday that there is $10 million available under the state's supplementary program and that indications are that all of this money will not be needed. Only $79,000 has been spent so far.
In addition to the programs being applied for through the Disaster Application Centers, the federal and state authorities are also administering public assistance to schools and other facilities that sustained damage in the Oct. 1 quake.
Button and Raudebaugh said this program will take longer to implement since larger repair jobs and more complicated procedures are necessary.
Thursday's decision to extend the application deadline was applauded by Whittier city officials, who said that many people in that hard-hit community had initially failed to apply because they were not certain how the federal and state programs meshed and how much aid was available.
Whittier has its own $361,000 municipal aid program to help some of those who do not manage to qualify for federal and state help. The assistant city manager, Robert Griego, said no disbursements have been made yet under that program.