skip to Main Content

Celebrating the Success of the CLA Program at Brooklyn A

My attorney was amazing. Every step of the way she helped me out, there was never a point in time that I felt alone or lost.

The New York City we know and love only exists because of our small businesses. Our restaurants, shops, and other locally owned enterprises create the character of NYC and give families from all backgrounds the foundation for financial stability and the opportunity to build something that lasts. But even before the pandemic, small business owners faced an uphill battle of rising rents, aggressive landlords, and few legal protections to help keep their doors open. That’s where Brooklyn A comes in.

Brooklyn A administers the Commercial Lease Assistance Program (CLA), an initiative funded by the city’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to allow underserved small business owners in the city to get critical legal support. This work helps businesses avoid displacement pressures like rising rents and landlords looking to re-rent or sell properties to chains. In the last fiscal year, we provided nearly 2,400 services to 836 unique businesses across the city.

This month, Brooklyn A is spotlighting the success of the CLA Program and the thriving business clients we’ve had the privilege to serve. As residents of NYC themselves—sometimes neighbors of the businesses we help—Brooklyn A staff take to heart the importance of keeping these storefronts open. For us, taking on a small business client is more like joining their team.

“My attorney was amazing. Every step of the way she helped me out, there was never a point in time that I felt alone or lost,” said Michael, owner of D Roti Hut in Queens, who worked with BKA to renegotiate his lease. “She was always there 24 hours with a quick phone call or a quick email. If I did not get the support from the CLA, I would have really, really been struggling—the water was pretty much to my nose and CLA came and I would say they quite simply rescued me.”

Opening a small business in a city as expensive as New York City can be incredibly risky. Commercial tenants don’t share the same protections as residential tenants—leases for businesses are often one-sided and leave owners vulnerable to losing key assets like their cars or homes. Hoping to give small businesses an ally in the city, Brooklyn A partnered with NYC Small Business Services in 2017 to form the Commercial Lease Assistance Program, which funds these critical legal services.

Brooklyn A is proud to administer the CLA Program and to be partnered with SBS helping New York City better serve business owners. We also have around a dozen community partnerships with organizations deeply rooted in neighborhoods across the city helping connect small businesses to our services.

It would be hard to overstate the importance of the CLA Program. Not only are businesses able to sustain themselves and build for the future, not only can immigrant families send money to loved ones abroad, but whole neighborhoods can be brought to life and enriched thanks to thriving shops run by community-focused owners right around the corner.

“I had a customer come say when he comes in, it feels like someone’s hugging him,” said Kiana, owner of Katie O’s soul food restaurant in Brooklyn who worked with BKA to get repairs and essential services restored. “That’s how it is at my restaurant. We know who you are. We know your family. We know what type of work you do for a living. It’s not just food. We built a relationship.”

Don’t miss our upcoming virtual forum “BKA in Business: Celebrating the Success of the Commercial Lease Assistance Program” on November 16th at 6 PM. Hear from Brooklyn A clients, staff, and top small business officials from the city, including NYC Small Business Services Commissioner Keving Kim and Council Member and Chair of the Small Business Committee Julie Menin. Click the button to register:

And watch the videos from our various CLA Program clients over the years right here:

Back To Top