Displaced by massive fire, Bridgeport residents eligible for loan assistance

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BRIDGEPORT -- The more-than-120 residents of a Bridgeport condominium complex which burned to the ground on New Year’s Eve now have the opportunity to recover more than they expected, thanks to an assist from Gov. Dan Malloy.

This week, inside the lobby of the Morton Government Center on Broad Street, displaced residents can apply for low-interest loans through the federal Small Business Administration.

“Up to $200,000 for real estate, if you are the owner of the real estate, and up to$ 40,000 for personal property,” said Reid Hoke, an SBA loan specialist on site.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim thanked Malloy for making this avenue possible.

“Because it was his call, and in response to his call, that the Small Business Administration is here today and will be for the next two days,” said Ganim.

The interest rates for these loans range from 1.8 percent to 4 percent.

“If you're imagining a homeowner might need just a small $5,000 loan, in order to replace some personal property, a 30 year loan, at 4 percent, would be about $25 a month,” said Sen. Chris Murphy.

The blaze blossomed in the garage of a 30-plus unit Charles Street condo complex just before 6 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.

“The next thing I know, the firemen are saying ‘get out, get, get out,’” recalled Claire Marchetti, a 10-year resident of the complex. “I ran out with no shoes, no coat, no pocketbook, nothing.”

Miraculously, none of the 120 residents were injured. Donations piled up in the days that followed. But, not all can be replaced.

"Children's picture albums and things like that that I've had since I was growing up,” said Paul Weston, who lived in the complex with his wife and four children for two years, about what he'll miss most.

Weston, accompanied by his wife, says he felt a bit uncomfortable applying for loan assistance because he is used to helping others. He works fulltime with incarcerated individuals preparing to reintegrate into society. He also assists with shelters in Fairfield County.

I'm not used to this, but it's a blessing,” Weston said.

The SBA loan specialists will be accepting apps in the lobby of the Morton Government Center from 8 to 5 through at least Thursday.

“It's a rewarding job in that aspect when you can help someone that has lost everything that they have,” said Hoke

For the displaced, who can’t meet face to face, log on to sba.gov.