Electeds Behind ‘Save Our Storefronts Act’ Tour LES Small Businesses
Since last spring, the coronavirus pandemic has laid waste to countless small businesses around the city, with many more barely treading water. Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and State Senator Brad Holyman are looking to change that.
The two elected officials visited Lower East Side stores Wednesday in an effort to promote the Save Our Storefronts Act. They listened as small business owners explained how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19, and heard firsthand about the shortcomings of city, state, and federal support to date.
The proposed legislation would help cover the cost of rent for COVID-19 affected businesses and nonprofits, by using State and Federal funds. It would also require a small business or non-profit and the property owner to share the burden of the shortfall. Certified COVID-19 affected tenants would pay the lesser of 20% of their income or one-third of their rent; property owners would be required to forgive 20% of the rent, leaving the State (using federal funds) to pay the remainder.
So far, the bill has garnered the support of twenty-eight legislators as well as a coalition of community groups and small business owners.
“According to a recently released report, 27.8% of small businesses in New York have closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hoylman in a public statement. “The number one reason? Overdue rent rendered unaffordable due to mandated shutdowns, plummeting revenue, and the disappearance of tourism. These businesses make up the lifeblood of New York City. They give our neighborhoods character. And they employ over half of New York State’s workforce.”