Recently we introduced you to Tammeca Rochester, owner of Harlem Cycle and Loycent “Loy” Gordon, owner of Neir’s Tavern . In the months and years before COVID-19 hit NYC, Tammeca and Loy were among the hundreds of minority-owned small businesses that Brooklyn A helped through the Commercial Lease Assistance (CLA) Program. When COVID-19 hit NYC and forced businesses to close temporarily, the information offered was confusing and overwhelming; they knew they could turn to the CLA Program to support the survival of their business.
In an article published last week , Forbes featured Tammeca and Loy and the proposed cut of the CLA Program in the City’s preliminary FY21 budget.
In the article, Tammeca shares her experience working with the CLA Program while negotiating the commercial lease for her second studio: “The lease was almost 200 pages. Just opening the document made me stressed. I knew that in those 200 pages, nothing would be in my favor,” she says. “The lawyers from Brooklyn A went through the document line by line,” she says. They told her: “this is something you can give in on, this is something you should never ever give in on.
The article also highlights the surge in requests the program has received since the start of the pandemic and how the concern from small business owners is survival. Yet sadly, CLA Program attorneys have stopped taking new clients and are only working on completing existing matters until they know the status of the program. Fortunately, Neir’s Tavern is one of those existing matters – Loy’s favorable new lease will be finalized in the coming weeks.
Recent reports show that business shutdowns from COVID-19 are devastating minority-owned businesses and communities of color, with a 40% decline of Black-owned businesses open from February to April . If small businesses cannot negotiate favorable leases, the whole economic ecosystem suffers – the small business owner, their landlord, and their respective families and employees. “You destroy a small business you destroy many lives, immediately,” says Kenrick Ross, the Program Manager for the Small Business Support Project at Brooklyn A. The message is clear: the CLA Program is essential to the survival of small businesses and communities of color in NYC.