Help During COVID-19
By Phil Ting
August will mark five months since the Bay Area and the state of California led the nation with shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, these measures have had adverse effects on our economy. Millions of people have filed for Unemployment Insurance, and countless small businesses have closed or are in danger of closing.
As Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I led efforts to boost government programs to help families and small businesses in need. Our state spending plan increases access to services instead of cutting them, despite a multi-billion dollar budget deficit.
To help our neighborhood treasures survive, the budget includes $100 million for the California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank, known as iBank, to beef up a loan guarantee program. Many small businesses in lower-income and immigrant communities unfortunately face barriers to credit; the Small Business Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Program incentivizes lenders to lend to businesses that may normally not qualify, allowing them to pay the rent and keep employees working. Our restaurants have also been able to generate desperately needed revenue from state programs such as Great Plates Delivered, which brings three meals a day to the homes of older adults and others especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
I have heard from constituents about the difficulties they face accessing federal Small Business Administration (SBA) programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which forgives loans if a minimum percentage is used keeping workers on payroll. Thankfully, help is available through Small Business Development Centers. These centers are funded jointly by the state and the SBA; with their offices closed due to the pandemic, they have a phone number for one-on-one counseling for your business: (833) ASK-SBDC (275-7232). I encourage eligible businesses, including sole proprietors, to apply for the PPP before the August 8 deadline.
Sadly, this crisis has led to further housing instability for many Californians. San Francisco will receive a portion of $300 million in state funding to continue addressing homelessness, with another $300 million allocated to programs that provide mortgage relief for homeowners and legal services for tenants who face eviction.
To address healthcare insecurity, we expanded Medi-Cal to cover more residents who lost their health insurance when they were laid off, and we created a new program to pay for COVID-19 testing and care for uninsured Californians. The state will also extend, starting in 2022, the period for which families can receive cash aid through CalWORKS from four years to five, while also strengthening the education and job training components of the program. We simplified access to CalFresh benefits so families can put food on the table, and the budget allocated $50 million to food banks to help them keep up with increased demand.
We are in this together, and it is going to be a long haul. If you are having issues getting your unemployment benefits or have questions about accessing state programs for your family or business, do not hesitate to contact my office at (415) 557-2312 or through my legislative website: https://a19.asmdc.org/.
Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City. He lives in the Sunset District. He can be reached at (415) 557-2312 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and updates, visit https://a19.asmdc.org.