New Jersey residents struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy may be eligible for loans and other long-term federal assistance.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) held a conference call Wednesday to discuss assistance options for those affected by the storm. 

A key message discussed today was that businesses and homeowners may be eligible for loans from the SBA, even if they did not qualify for other Sandy-related assistance programs.

'Don't wait on insurance' 

According to SBA representatives, they've issued 157,488 loan applications, but only 6,116 of those have been returned.

"Don't wait on insurance, don't count yourself out," said Kathy Cook from SBA, "[The money is] intended to take care of their emergency and functional needs."

Once the application is turned in, home and business owners can see a check from SBA within days, as opposed to the weeks they may have to wait through their insurance companies.

Whatever amount the insurance companies cover can then be sent back to the SBA.

According to the SBA, homeowners can get up to $200,000 for home repairs and $40,000 for personal property with a rate as low as 1.7 percent.  Business owners can get up to $2 million in repairs or economic injury with a rate as low as four percent. 

Housing options

FEMA officials also say they're working on a solution for New Jersey residents who have lost their homes because of the superstorm.

During the conference, Bill Vogel from FEMA said they're converting a Fort Monmouth building into a 45-unit apartment for residents who lost their homes. 

"We have 155 applicants that actually would qualify for our direct housing program, i.e. Fort Monmouth," said Housing Group Supervisor Donna Weise.

Those people are from Monmouth and Ocean counties, the hardest hit areas.

"[But] we don't want to focus just on Fort Monmouth," said Weise, "there are a lot of people in other areas that need assistance with a housing solution that Fort Monmouth wouldn't be the most convenient for them."

Vogel said the construction work at Fort Monmouth should be done around Christmas.

If you haven't registered for sandy-related assistance, you still can at the FEMA hotline: 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA).

You can also go to disasterassitance.gov for more information. If you're looking for loans to help pay for disaster recovery, go to the SBA website.