As cancellations, school closings, and mandatory quarantines escalate, San Jose officials strive to serve the city’s most vulnerable residents and fear devastating economic consequences for residents and local small businesses who lose incomes.
Following last week’s call for an eviction moratorium to be imposed on residents unable to pay rent due to loss of income, the city council unanimously approved the extension of the ban to small businesses and the establishment of an aid fund to cover workers’ wages, Rent and other fixed costs.
The temporary moratorium, which comes into effect for 30 days with the option of monthly renewal, is designed to protect residents who cannot rent a house or business by prohibiting landlords from vacating them. Legislators passed the moratorium on Tuesday and approved its application to small businesses. The city council will return in three weeks to vote on passing the corporate moratorium.
“This period of self-isolation will eventually pass, but if we can’t keep our small business community going … Once the immediate threat is over, I think rebuilding a vibrant city will have a very long way to go,” said Councilor Lan Diep who designed the city’s direction for helping small businesses.
He added that it is important that local lawmakers seek federal assistance from the Trump administration and ask the governor’s office to prioritize resources for Santa Clara County, given some of the highest rates of confirmed coronavirus in the region Cases in the country have been recorded.
As San José Spotlight reported last week, many local businesses – especially those in the hospitality sector – are particularly hard hit, especially those offering Asian cuisine and bars, clubs and breweries in San Jose after the state ordered them to close.
City officials said there are more than 50,000 estimated small businesses in the city. At least 60 percent of small business owners are colored people and nearly 51 percent are immigrants. Many council members said the city needs to step up efforts to prevent small business closures, especially in low-income communities.
“We have to find out how we can help them keep their doors open,” said Councilor Magdalena Carrasco. I realize and am fully aware that some of these doors will never open again. I don’t have the heart to tell them that they may not survive this coming tsunami. “
The city announced its partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to create the San Jose Strong Fund, designed to help San Jose residents, small businesses, and nonprofits economically affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“To fill this gap, we are relying on philanthropy,” said Michelle McGurk, assistant to the city administrator’s office. “The fund will help fill the gap. Now is the time for us all to work together – this is the time to work in partnership. “
The city will also be reaching out to San Jose companies like Google, Cisco, Adobe, and Apple to help raise money for the fund. The fund, based on Amazon’s response to helping small businesses in Seattle, provides grants to businesses struggling to stay afloat during the crisis.
The city also announced on Tuesday that it would temporarily suspend parking meters and garages during the crisis. To further help small businesses, the city will investigate the postponement of utility bills and corporate tax collection through February next year, while granting interest-free loans. Those in charge of the city also carried out a “campaign on site”.
“I support our families who started businesses – they are the backbone of our economy,” said Councilor Sylvia Arenas.
Legislators also agreed to calls by Carrasco and Vice Mayor Chappie Jones to set up a “small business office” or hire a full-time employee to provide support, resources and advice to small businesses in an emergency.
“We need that laser focus to support small businesses, and that’s why we wrote in our memo for a dedicated person who wakes up every day to spend their time supporting our small business partners,” said Jones.
Small business owners can visit the city’s website, where resources are available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, for more information on getting assistance. Donations to the city’s San Jose Strong Fund can be made online to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Contact Nadia Lopez at [email protected] or follow @n_llopez on Twitter.