Mpls. commits $5M to help small biz, renters and workers amid pandemic

The coronavirus gap funding program was announced Friday.
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If you're a small business owner, renter or worker hurting because of coronavirus, there could be financial help coming your way from the city of Minneapolis. 

On Friday, city leadership announced a $5 million gap funding program aimed at easing financial hardship during the pandemic. 

The funding package — the result of a collaboration between Mayor Jacob Frey's office and the City Council, a press release says — will provide the following:

  • $2M in emergency housing assistance for "low-income renters who have lost income"
  • $1M to expand the Stable Homes Stable Schools initiative, which provides assistance to children and families experiencing homelessness
  • $2.2 million for small business owners and self-employed workers

The program also modifies the city's existing small-business loan program by setting interest rates at 0%, among other changes — though qualifying companies must "be able to show a demonstrable impact from the pandemic."

For the rest, eligibility and help received depends on a number of factors. 

For emergency housing assistance, the amount of financial help for qualifying households varies, "depending on individual needs and taking into consideration other resources individual households are eligible to receive."

In most cases, the city says, $1,500 is the maximum available per household, but housing assistance programs "have the flexibility to provide up to $2,000 under extraordinary circumstances."

As for small business help, companies must have 20 or fewer employees to qualify. Such companies as well as self-employed workers can receive fixed loan amounts of $5,000 and $10,000, "depending on need resulting from the pandemic."

Other assistance

The city says it will also "re-examine loans closed before the pandemic to help small businesses," and that it's moving forward with six months of forbearance and deferred payment programs for "eligible and existing City-issued loans less than $200,000 to homebuyers and businesses."

Additionally, two existing assistance programs will receive stepped-up funding: $300,000 Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP), and $100,000 for Twin Cities Hospitality Fund, which provides micro-grants to "low-wealth employees in the hospitality and service industry."

Frey issued the following statement about the program:

“COVID-19 will leave no corner of our city untouched, but we know that some communities will be more impacted than others. Thanks to the strength of our partnerships with non-profit leaders and neighboring governments, we’re moving forward with emergency housing and small business programs that prioritize residents who have been hit hardest by this pandemic. The measures that have been taken to protect public health have been absolutely necessary, and it’s also critical we keep the pilot light of our economy lit throughout this crisis.”

For more information on the gap funding initiative, including details on eligibility and how to apply, click here. 

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