NEWARK, NJ — With people across Newark hurting financially as the pandemic escalates nationwide, the city is devoting additional resources to support small businesses and renters facing eviction.
Officials are enforcing a 10-day lockdown between Nov. 25 and Dec. 4, which means revenue lost for non-essential businesses and workers in the city. A $4 million addition to Newark’s Small Business Grant Fund and Rental Housing Assistance Program hopes to provide stopgap relief.
In New Jersey, an estimated one-third of small businesses have already closed their doors permanently due to COVID-19. Many in Newark, particularly the city’s Ironbound section, say they’re on the brink of closure.
“Many of Newark’s small businesses and tenants have been devastated by COVID-19,” Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement. “To help them endure and prosper, we created emergency funds for businesses facing severe hardship as a result of the pandemic and for tenants facing eviction after losing the ability to pay rent. Newark is strong and this initiative is one of the many ways that we are pulling together as a community to fight this pernicious virus and restore our economy.”
Each program is being infused with $2 million, which will become available Dec. 14. Small businesses that did not close for the 10-day period are ineligible to apply to the Small Business Grant Fund.
Newark’s Department of Economic and Housing Development will administer grants of up to $25,000 to select small businesses in partnership with the nonprofit economic development agency Invest Newark. The grants process will focus on personal care services, businesses that employ Newark residents, minority and women-owned businesses and those who have not yet received grant support.
A quarter of the small business funds are being reserved for the hardest-hit zip codes, 07104, 07105, and 07107, which includes the Ironbound.
Residents in need of rental assistance must be below 60% of the area's median income and living in a substantially-compliant building. At a minimum, 50% of the funds, which will be administered with the help of Newark Housing Authority, are reserved for tenants of buildings with four or fewer units.
Tenants facing eviction may also access free legal services through Newark’s Office of Tenant Legal Services. The city will offer a virtual workshop to show small business applicants how to navigate the grants process on the City of Newark’s Facebook live on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 6:30. p.m. Rental assistance candidates can tune in on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 10:30 a.m.