Small businesses in NYC are clinging to life and hanging on by a thread. Yet even during the pandemic, they have been fined by city agencies.
One elected official realizes that putting more of a financial burden on these proprietors when they are barely surviving is simply not right.
Councilman Fernando Cabrera recently announced that he is in the process of drafting a bill that will create an amnesty program for small businesses that have received summonses during COVID-19. If approved, it will eliminate interest; reduce the fine by 25 % and issue refunds for fines already paid.
“Small businesses deemed ‘non-essential’ were forced to close for an indefinite period of time, forfeiting income, destroying local businesses and neighborhood jobs,” the councilman said. “This didn’t stop the city from issuing summonses for various violations that might not have been the fault of the business owner. We need to save these small businesses, which are mainstays of our communities.”
As of September 2020, close to 6,000 New York City businesses had closed, and bankruptcy filings had increased by 40%.
But business owners are hurting even more in the Bronx as they only received 1 % of the COVID-19 relief loans from the city and less than 10,000 businesses received the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
The lawmaker told the Bronx Times he has spoken with business owners and many are at wits end. With minimal revenue coming in, Cabrera questions how long these places can stay afloat.
“I am surprised so many people are getting fined,” he stressed. “Right now the businesses are asking for help.
“This has been an especially serious problem in low income Black and Brown communities, which also endured the most severe health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he continued. “Forcing businesses to close further impacts the city’s tax base, making a bad situation worse. Instead, we should forego the fines and save our small businesses. This offers a path to economic recovery.”