NEWARK, NJ — The city is reaching into its own coiffeurs to put down $6 million in funding for a series of six economic relief initiatives it announced this week in response to the impact of the coronavirus.

Mayor Ras Baraka announced the city’s economic relief package on Wednesday, saying that the six financial interventions were aimed at helping residents and small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. The city is rolling out the initiatives “almost daily” until April 3, starting with a $2 million small business grant that will provide grants of $10,000 to about 200 businesses. 

Rather than wait for federal and private dollars to come in first, Baraka and Allison Ladd, director of Economic and Housing Development, said the city wanted to develop and open the programs up for the public as soon as possible.

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The city will repurpose Community Block Development Grants, HOME funds, and local trust fund money, much of which they expect will be reimbursed by the federal government due to emergency declarations. 

“The federal stimulus package is money that we have to get from them. We’ve seeded this grant with $6 million, and because it’s a national emergency, we’re able to recoup those dollars and get them back from the federal government,” Baraka said on Thursday. 

Baraka added that with checks already going out to residents’ houses for the city’s Universal Basic Income pilot, which passed in city council prior to the onset of the coronavirus, the extra monies will be “extremely helpful.” 

Some of the funding the city will receive from the federal aid will overlap with the local dollars, which Baraka said will help cover more people and allow more residents to receive assistance. In addition to small businesses, nonprofits, people experiencing homelessness, Newark homeowners and arts and cultural organizations stand to benefit from the initiatives. 

Ladd said the mayor put out a call to action to the city’s business and philanthropic partners to contribute to the fund. So far, Prudential has pledged $250,000 to the small business grant and $600,000 to United Way of Greater Newark, which is partnering with the city to administer this particular grant. Invest Newark has put $100,000 forward for the small business grant. 

For the six initatives, the mayor has directed the tax assessor to accept applications from building owners with business tenants who have taken financial hits as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The building tenants will collect those savings as tax deductions, which the city plans to keep in check through joint application requirements. 

Aside from the small business grant fund, the other initiatives will be administered by the city, Ladd said. 

Here’s how residents and small business owners can apply for funding:

1. Up to $2 million investment in a small business and with grants up to $10,000 for 200 qualified businesses.

  •  Business must have a physical establishment located in Newark; business must have 10 employees or less; business must show loss of income directly tied to the coronavirus crisis; businesses that owe any money to the City will have their applications placed at bottom of list.
  • Applications for the fund will open on Monday, March 30, through a link on the United Way of Essex County website that will go live Monday. The link is https://uwnewark.org/
  • An informational webinar on the program will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m. Small businesses can register here.

2. Approximately $1 million investment in rapid, short-term rental housing for 300 of the most vulnerable Newark residents, including those without permanent addresses.
3. Up to $1 million investment in community-based non-profits that serve Newark residents.
4. A $1 million investment in the “Live Newark” program to provide down payment and rehabilitation funds for up to 100 Newark homeowners.

  • $5,000 down payment forgivable loans to first-time home buyers and forgivable loans up to $15,000 for homeowners undertaking external repairs. There will also be $5,000 down payment forgivable loans to City employees. 
  • The recipient must have lived in the home for at least five years. 
  • Applications for this Live Newark program can be found here. 

5. Up to $750,000 arts initiative investment that will assist up to 30 arts and cultural organizations with operating funds and capital funds.
6. Tax savings from reassessment will be passed along to small business tenants in the form of rent reductions.