Casey: Lower Interest Rates for Disaster Relief Loans
Lowering the interest rates on these loans will help communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the economic downturn. As you know, northeastern Pennsylvania was particularly hard hit by the flooding. This natural disaster comes in the midst of an economic downturn that has gone on too long and has affected the region to a greater degree than other parts of the state and country. The unemployment rate in the metropolitan statistical area that includes northeastern Pennsylvania lies at 9.4 percent, significantly higher than the Pennsylvania average at 8.2 percent and the national unemployment average. Moreover, the dual impact of the economic and natural disasters is not confined to northeastern Pennsylvania. Other counties in eastern and central Pennsylvania located along the Susquehanna River and its tributaries affected by Lee also suffer from high levels of unemployment. This is also the case in the Lehigh Valley and southeastern Pennsylvania counties in the Delaware River basin that were significantly affected by Irene.
These residents and businesses in eastern and central Pennsylvania that have suffered an economic blow must now contend with the fallout from a natural disaster. Many affected residents already have mortgages and other costs to pay on damaged properties. In addition, many of these same residents are either out of work or have someone in their family who is either unemployed or underemployed. Taking on a loan with high interest rates in addition to the costs residents have already incurred will be a real challenge for affected homeowners. Lowering the interest rate for these loans will relieve the tremendous economic burden facing these residents.