Photos by Stacie Joy
Local community groups gathered yesterday morning to call on state legislators to support commercial rent relief for small businesses.
The event took place outside Michelle Dry Cleaners & Laundry, 169 Avenue C between 10th Street and 11th Street... the Cooper Square Committee, East Village Community Coalition, Village Preservation and the East Village Independent Merchants Association, said that they have been hearing from many business owners who continue to struggle to pay rent during the pandemic ... all in the face of drastic declines in their revenues.
In addition, according to the organizers, immigrant and business owners of color say they have been disappointed by the lack of outreach and assistance in securing working capital to stay afloat.
In turn, several of the small businesses were placing "Permanently Closed" signs on their storefronts to visualize their struggle and what is at stake if the state does not take action. They are asking state legislators to support Senate Bill 3349/Assembly Bill 3190, which would help cover the cost of rent for businesses and nonprofits who lost income due to COVID-19.
Under the bill, the commercial tenant, property owner and state government would share the burden of the rent shortfall. Certified COVID-19-affected commercial tenants would have to pay the lesser of 20 percent of their actual income or one-third of their rent, property owners would have to forgive 20 percent of the rent, and the state would pay the remainder.