Small businesses and families can now expect to receive financial assistance through the use of the Federal CARES Act funds
On May 19, a piece of legislation sponsored by Commissioner Levine Cava was approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The legislation is an effort to provide assistance to local small businesses and families and authorizes the County to use funds from the Coronavirus Aid Relief Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide loans to businesses and food and housing assistance to individuals with low to moderate income.
Nutritional assistance funds will become available to approximately 10,000 individuals who reside in public housing. Eligible residents are likely those who have lost their service jobs due to the shutdown of the tourism and hospitality industries. They must not have already received pandemic relief assistance.
A portion of the funding will also be put towards homeless prevention and rehousing activities. The funds include $8 million from the Community Development Block Grant and $4 million from the Emergency Solutions Grant.
“It is critical that the County be able to act quickly to get needed funding into the community to assist our small businesses – the backbone of our economy – and our most vulnerable populations that have been hit hardest by the pandemic crisis,” said Commissioner Levine Cava.
Beyond local families, businesses can expect $5 million to be available in the Small Business Assistance Forgivable Loan Program (SBAFLP). Businesses can take out loans of up to $25,000 with no interest and no fees.
The forgivable feature of the loan depends on the ability of the small business to retain jobs of employees who are of low or moderate income. This refers to individuals who earn less than 80 percent of the annual Area Median Income (AMI), which for one person is $51,200.
“The $5 million Small Business Assistance Forgivable Loan Program is an initial step by the County to help small businesses as we responsibly open up for business,” said Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Businesses wishing to take out a loan with the program must meet certain criteria. This includes having less than 25 employees, having evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on the business, and not previously having assistance from COVID-19 assistance programs like the Payroll Protection Program.
The loans will be administered by the County’s Department of Public Housing and Community Development, through two Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs specialize in micro and small business lending in low to moderate income communities.
One of the CDFIs are Partners for Self-Employment, which can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via their website. The other is Tools for Change, which can be contacted at email@example.com or via their website.