New York City small businesses hold out hope for COVID relief bill

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Thursday, December 3, 2020
NYC businesses hold out hope for COVID relief bill
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CeFaan Kim reports that talks of a new bi-partisan stimulus bill is offering small businesses in New York City a glimmer of hope, but is it enough?

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Talks of a new bi-partisan stimulus bill is offering small businesses in New York City a glimmer of hope, but is it enough?

Flor de Mayo on the Upper West Side, is the city's most well-known Peruvian Chinese cuisine in the city. But like restaurants everywhere, they are in pain excruciating pain as a result of the pandemic.

"I've taken out, refinanced my house for more loans," Flor de Mayo owner Dennis Chu said. "I have a family to feed. I have three kids to make sure that they're fed and that they're going to school. I had to do it. I wasn't just gonna close up and just say goodbye."

Chu is the owner and admits lately he's had to add depression to his list of struggles.

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He's betting it all on his restaurant. His personal life and his business will go down together if they can't survive the winter.

The Upper West Side meanwhile, a neighborhood with some of the highest number of residents who have fled the city during the pandemic.

And Chu has noticed. He did get a PPP loan on the first round, but much less than he expected.

"Honesty considering what we got last time, it probably wouldn't help me out very much," Chu said.

But there might be a sliver of hope heading towards small businesses.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a breakthrough in pandemic relief negotiations.

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They are backing a new $908 billion pandemic relief bill introduced this week by a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers in a sign of movement in a stalemate that has dogged Congress for months.


"While we made a new offer to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday, in the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement referring to their counterparts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Their move comes just days before lawmakers are set to break for the holidays and after President-elect Joe Biden called on Congress to pass "immediate relief."

The bipartisan proposal - at roughly $908 billion - is still almost a trillion dollars less than what Pelosi and Democrats had been calling for, and more than what Republican leaders have said they're willing to sign off on.

The framework of the bipartisan relief bill includes $288 billion in small business aid, $160 billion in state and local government relief, and $180 billion to fund a $300 per week supplemental unemployment benefit through March.

Even under this framework, less than a third of it will go to small business aid.

In fact, Chu says even if another round of small business loans comes through, it might not be enough to save them.

Outdoor dining in the neighborhood is completely empty during prime-time dinner hour, and it looks like this almost every night.

"This stimulus package is not even close to what the first one was," Chu said. "So I'm thinking we're not, how much are we really gonna get? Definitely less than what I would expect probably."

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Even with coronavirus spiking and new restrictions taking effect, Congress remains stalled on fresh relief for Americans in need.

Congressional leaders say they hope to vote on the bill next week.

Chu is worried, it might already be too late.


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