Velazquez Addresses Chinatown Exclusions from Storefront Loan Program
Washington, DC – After a significant portion of Chinatown’s business district was arbitrarily excluded from critical assistance due to their zip code, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has addressed a letter to Commissioner Jonnel Doris of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) asking the Department to qualifying the area’s businesses for loans. The SBS’ Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) storefront program offers financial assistance to businesses suffering from a lack of revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. Chinatown’s business district west of Bowery was excluded, despite being in dire need of aid.
“The impact COVID-19 has had on our community cannot be stated enough,” wrote Velázquez. “The overwhelming majority of our community’s businesses are mom-and-pop shops employing local workers. The survival of these businesses is instrumental to preserving the community’s economic ecosystem. The small businesses of our neighborhood are a classic example of what your agency should be striving to preserve. I applaud the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) on its hard work to get money to struggling shop owners—a herculean task—given the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus.”
Throughout, COVID-19, Chinatown’s small business have experienced a decline in revenue due to lessened tourism and heightened xenophobia. Many businessowners turned to the SBS’s LMI Storefront Loan Program to offset losses in revenue and keep their stores afloat. However, Chinatown businesses seeking assistance through the SBS Loan program found themselves excluded arbitrarily, due to their assigned zip code. Though these businesses faced considerable financial struggles, the streets in question fell within the zip codes of Tribeca and Soho, more affluent areas.
The letter urges the New York City SBS to reconsider these exclusions, as the businesses in question are in need of assistance and should not be assessed on the basis of their zip code. Velázquez also urged the SBS to consider securing these businesses alternate means of funding.
As Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, Congresswoman Velázquez has fought throughout the pandemic to ensure that small business federal relief programs are reaching underserved communities through set-asides and additional resources. More about her efforts to this end, can be found here.
The letter can be found online here.
華盛頓特區——當華埠商業區的眾多小商家由於郵政編碼被武斷排除在紐約市小企業服務局關鍵援助之外時，眾議員維樂貴絲給紐約市小企業服務局（SBS）局長Jonnel Doris致函，要求該機構對華埠的商家進行貸款資格認證。小企業服務局的「低至中等收入地區 」（LMI） 店面計畫為因疫情而缺乏收入的商家提供財政援助。儘管華埠眾商家急需資金，但位於包厘街以西的華埠商業區被排除在援助計劃外。
January 6, 2021
Commissioner Jonnel Doris
New York City Department of Small Business Services
1 Liberty Plaza, 11th floor
New York, NY 10006
Dear Commissioner Doris:
I am writing to you express my concerns over the exclusion of businesses in Manhattan’s Chinatown from your agency’s Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) Storefront Loan Program, which is intended for small businesses in LMI neighborhoods. As you know, Chinatown is one of New York’s City culturally iconic working-class immigrant neighborhoods and would benefit significantly from additional investment. For many years, small enterprises have served as community anchors, but the devastating impacts generated by the public health emergency has seriously eroded the ability of shop owners to keep their businesses afloat.
As you know, Chinatown is a resilient neighborhood: its storefronts have survived the aftermaths of September 11th and Hurricane Sandy. Now, our community’s businesses grapple with the adverse impacts generated by the current emergency. Despite Congress’ attempts to provide appropriate aid, President Donald Trump underestimated and mismanaged our domestic response to COVID-19. Instead, the President’s national “response” was led by xenophobia and misleading reassurances. Xenophobia, alongside low business traffic and reduced tourism, has resulted in significant losses in revenue. The impact COVID-19 has had on our community cannot be stated enough. The overwhelming majority of our community’s businesses are mom-and-pop shops employing local workers. The survival of these businesses is instrumental to preserving the community’s economic ecosystem. The small businesses of our neighborhood are a classic example of what your agency should be striving to preserve. I applaud the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) on its hard work to get money to struggling shop owners—a herculean task—given the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus.
Yet ironically, the entire Chinatown business district west of Bowery was excluded from the SBS’ LMI neighborhoods assistance program. It is my understanding that this exclusion took place solely because these streets share a zip code with Tribeca and Soho, two of the City’s most affluent neighborhoods. The area in question includes Chinatown’s gateway to Canal Street. It contains the streets most visited by tourists, houses various Chinatown cultural activities, and parades. To arbitrarily use a business’ zip code as the primary qualifier for assistance programs shows lack of community awareness and cultural insensitivity by SBS.
Given the precarious state of many of Chinatown’s businesses, I urge your agency to take immediate actions to help the businesses left out of the assistance programs by securing them access to alternative sources of funding. In addition, for all future SBS LMI neighborhoods programs, I recommend your agency to consider additional eligibility criteria in forthcoming grant selections.
In my view, the use of Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs), developed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), would be the most effective method to ensure that funds are allocated to the businesses in the communities that need it most. In addition, the SBS should consider accepting applications from businesses that serve or that are located adjacent to a QCT to ensure that all businesses that serve our community are given the ability to receive full and fair consideration.
I am thankful for all the work SBS has done for our community, and I look forward to working with you as we fight for our city’s small businesses.
Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress
Commissioner Jonnel Doris New York City Department of Small Business Services 1 Liberty Plaza, 11th floor New York, NY 10006
我給你寫這封信以表達我對曼哈頓華埠眾多小商家被排除在貴機構的低至中等收入 （LMI）社區店面貸款幫助計劃之外的擔憂。如您所知，華埠是紐約市最典型的工人階級 移民社區之一。 在此刻,額外的投資對這個社區起到非常重要的幫助。 多年來，小企業 一直是社區經濟的主心骨，但此次公共衛生緊急情況造成的破壞性影響嚴重削弱了店主們 繼續經營的能力。
如您所知，華埠是一個堅韌的社區：它的商家們在911和桑迪颶風的餘波中存活下來。現 在，我們社區的企業在努力應對當前緊急情況造成的不利影響。 儘管國會試圖提供適當 的援助，但特朗普總統低估COVID-19對美國的影響以及對其反應不當。相反，總統的國家 "反應"是由仇外心理和誤導性保證主導的。仇外情緒，以及商業流量低和旅遊業減少，導 致商家們收入嚴重損失。COVID-19對社區的影響難以勝數。我們社區的絕大多數商家都是 雇用當地工人的家庭小生意。這些企業的存亡對於維護社區的經濟生態系統有著至關重要 的影響。 我們社區的商家是貴機構需要努力保護的一個經典例子。鑒於新冠病毒造成的 經濟不確定性，我讚揚紐約市小企業服務局（SBS）為陷入困境的店主提供資金所做的辛 勤努力,這是一項艱巨的任務。
然而具有諷刺意味的是，包厘街以西的整個華埠商業區被排除在紐約市小企業服務局的 LMI社區援助計劃之外。據我瞭解，這個結果僅僅是因為這些街道與Tribeca和Soho共用一 個郵政編碼，本市最富裕的兩個街區。 包厘街以西地區內有華埠的門戶地標。它包含遊 客來訪最多的街道，各種華埠文化活動和遊行在此舉行。 任意使用企業郵政編碼作為決 定援助資格的決定性因素，表明紐約市小企業服務局缺乏社區意識和文化敏感度。
鑒於華埠許多商家狀況岌岌可危，我敦促貴機構立即採取行動，幫助這些無辜被剔除援助 計劃外的商家，確保他們獲得其他援助資金來源。此外，對於所有未來的紐約市小企業服 務局針對中低收入社區商家的計劃, 我建議貴機構考慮採用其他標準來決定受益商家資 格