COVID-19 Guide: Getting Help & Giving Help

Wed, May 6th, 2020

UPDATED WEDNESDAY, MAY 27TH, 2020 1:30PM

Below is an ever-growing and evolving list of resources and updates for neighbors around Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene & Clinton Hill regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

On “Pause”

Effective Sunday, March 22 at 8pm: all non-essential businesses are ordered to close. View the State’s list to view a full list of essential and non-essential. Restaurants can continue to operate on delivery or take-out basis only. Please visit our page to see what businesses are still operating on Myrtle.

Staying Healthy

Get the latest information and updates on COVID-19 from the NYC Department of Health. To receive real-time New York City COVID-19 updates, text “COVID” to 692-692.

Keeping Yourself & Others Healthy

Visit the Department of Health’s website for a full list of measures everyone needs to take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes regular and proper handwashing, social distancing, and isolating yourself if you feel sick.

Mental Health Support

If you have experienced difficulty managing your anxiety and fear levels during this crisis, visit the Office of Mental Health website for FREE Mental Health support. This website includes resources for people who are looking for help but also for those who are looking to help and volunteer.


Resources For Businesses

The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership continues to track the latest resources for businesses and is advocating with local elected officials, city agencies and small business service organizations for resources that can assist Myrtle’s small business owners and employees.

For the latest guidelines, tips and FAQs for small businesses from the City of New York, please click here or sign-up for updates by e-mail.

Re-opening Resources

    • A few regions of the State begin reopening May 15th, but this does not include NYC
    • Once NYC is able to begin “re-opening”, different types of non-essential businesses will reopen in different phases. Specific reopening dates have not yet been set for these phases in NYC:
      • Phase 1: non-essential retail shops can reopen but only with curbside or in-store pickup service (customers cannot shop around the store). This includes clothing stores, gift shops, and florists. *NOTE: Currently, only single-employee non-essential retail shops have been able to operate with the curbside or at-door service. This can continue until the “re-opening” date in NYC happens and then at that point you can begin to have more staff in the store.
      • Phase 2: professional services (hair salons, barbershops, accountants, etc.), in-store retail shopping, real estate services, administrative office workers 
      • Phase 3: dine-in service at restaurants
      • Phase 4: schools, museums, entertainment venues
      • Before you re-open, your business will need to have a Re-Opening Safety Plan. Fill in your business information at the top, fill in some specifics to the questions asked, print and keep in your business, and share with staff. You do not need to submit this plan to the City or State.
      • New York Forward Business Re-Open Lookup Tool
      • Signage

For more resources, guidelines and tips, please see below.

Retail

Restaurants and Bars

It should be noted that, NYC Food Czar, Kathryn Garcia, shared the following updates and reminders with us:

  • Bars and restaurants should adopt policies that promote social distancing for waiting patrons and cannot exceed 50% of capacity for patrons waiting inside the premises.
  • Bars and restaurants can adopt a policy that prohibits customers from entering your restaurant or being served without a face covering.

Advice for both Retail and Restaurants

Hair and Nail Salons and Barbershops

Fitness and Gyms

Face Coverings

Additional Resources and Readings 

Rent and Lease Issues

At this time there is no formal rent or mortgage grace period enacted in NYC, which means you are still obligated to make your rent payments. A moratorium is in effect for evictions (meaning your landlord can’t begin to take you to court) until August 20th. Similarly, the governor has requested (not required) lenders to impose a 90-day grace period on mortgages.

For more legal assistance, you can reach out to the following organizations for free legal services regarding rent and lease issues.

The New York State Senate has proposed Bill S8125A which calls for the suspension of rent payments for certain residential tenants and small business commercial tenants and certain mortgage payments for ninety days in response to the outbreak of covid-19. This is currently a proposal at this point and has not been enacted. Click here for more information.

To help advocate that the City, State, or Federal government pass rent relief, visit MyGovNYC.org to find a full list of your elected representatives and their phone numbers. 

Financial Aid (Federal and City)

  • New York State launched the New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF) to provide working capital loans of up to $100,000 to NYS small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords that suffered a direct economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. The $100+ million program supports businesses and organizations as they proceed with upfront expenses to comply with guidelines (e.g., inventory, marketing, refitting for new social distancing guidelines) as they reopen based on New York Forward guidelines.
    While New York City has not yet been cleared to reopen from NYS on PAUSE, small businesses can now complete the NYFLF pre-application and get in queue. To expedite your full application once the region/industry is eligible, we recommend you have ready the recently filed tax returns and evidence of legal formation of business entity (Articles of Incorporation and/or bylaws) for the participating lenders.
    To be eligible, small businesses must have 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and gross revenues of less than $3 million per year, and have been in business for at least one year as of the date of loan application. Further, applicants are ineligible if they received SBA funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Businesses can apply for a “loan” that can help cover payroll and other expenses from now through June 30. The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities, with at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees. Loan forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender and view a sample application here.
  • Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application
  • If you applied already but haven’t heard anything from your bank or was told that your application was not approved, you can apply again through a local lender who still has some money available. BOC Network is here in Fort Greene and provides services and loans to small businesses. They are still accepting applications for the PPP loan program but anticipate their funds being out by within a week. If you’d like to apply through them, please fill out this form. Please give us a call if you need help filling out the form, 718-230-1689. Boc Network is only processing a handful of applications, not thousands like the big banks, which means your application with them will get processed much faster.
  • Chase: no longer accepting applications at the moment
  • Bank of America: their application link is still open, but this could change at any moment
  • TD Bank: their application link is still open, but this could change at any moment
  • CitiBank: they are contacting existing clients in batches and inviting them to apply
  • For anyone who has an existing loan that was backed by the SBA (typically these are called 7(a) or 504 loans), your payments for the next 6 months can be covered by the federal government and you won’t owe anything (principal, interest, fees) on it during that 6-month window. Contact your lender for more information.
  • For more details on EIDL Loans and the PPP, click here for an “explainer sheet” on how the aid package addresses small businesses in particular, or visit the Small Business Guidance and Loan Resource page on the SBA website. For assistance in filling out applications, schedule an appointment with a representative from the Brooklyn Small Business Development Center by calling (718) 797-0187.

Note: Updates are not regularly coming in response to the applications. Whether you are contacting SBA about the EIDL loan, or your private lender for about your PPP application, it is important for businesses to have their application number/confirmation on hand. Businesses are also advised to check their Spam email folders as some communication has been sent to that folder, only to be missed. 

  • Sick Pay Reimbursement: The IRS announced 100% reimbursement for small businesses for costs incurred when providing staff with paid sick leave related to COVID-19, available as a payroll tax credit. For full details, please visit the IRS’ website and consultant with your accountant.
  • NYC Small Business Continuity Fund: Please note, per the NYC Small Business website: “Due to overwhelming interest in the NYC Business Continuity Loan Fund, we have paused application intake, as of Wednesday, April 8. We will be reviewing submitted applications on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted.”
  • NYC Employee Retention Grant: The application for this loan is now closed. Please apply for the Small Business Continuity Fund or the SBA loans mentioned above.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Loan Advance: this loan awards a loan advance of $10,000, disbursed within three days of application approval. This grant does not need to be paid back. Any EIDL loans you take beyond this $10,000 amount will need to be paid back. Businesses are eligible to borrow up to $2 million through the EIDL loan program, which carries an interest rate up to 3.75 percent, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years. The loans may be used to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses. To apply for EIDL loan advance, click here. This video can assist you in completing the application. You may begin to apply for a loan on Friday, April 3 directly through your prefered lender or bank. Update: As of 6pm on Monday, April 27th, the SBA has said they are no longer accepting applications for the EIDL loan, as previous applications, that still need to be processed, will use up the rest of the funds awarded in the second round of stimulus. PPP loans are still available for application

Note: Scammers are targeting businesses with loan and grant fraud. Beware of phishing emails and robocalls, and double check any web addresses to make sure that they are associated with the correct government agency.

Advocacy

In partnership with the NYC BID Association and other organizations, we are advocating for more supportive measures to help save small businesses:
  1. Fix the Paycheck Protection Program
  2. Commercial Rent & Mortgage Support
  3. Business interruption insurance claims must be paid
  4. Convert sales tax to cash grants

For more information, click here.

Small Business Grants From Private Companies and Non-Profits

  • Dime Savings Bank is offering $3,000-$10,000 grants to Brooklyn small businesses. You can submit a grant application at dime.com/grants. The deadline is May 22.
  • 1010 Wins has relaunched their 1010Wins $10,000 giveaway for small businesses. Apply for the contest here.
  • Facebook has also recently announced a grant program aimed at small businesses. For more information, click here.
  • Verizon Wireless, through a $2.5 million investment, is launching a Small Business Recovery Fund, that awards up to $10k per qualifying applicant. Click here for more details and to register.  
  • The Spanx Sara Blakely Foundation Red Backpack Fund is making 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by COVID-19. Visit here for more information.
  • Grantspace updates their list of organizations making hardship grants to small businesses,nonprofits, individuals and artists daily here.
  • Hello Alice is offering $10,000 grants being distributed immediately to small business owners impacted by coronavirus. For Alice Emergency Grants, visit here.
  • KIVA is offering up to $15,000 in zero interest loans for small businesses. Apply here.
  • GoFundMe.org Small Business Relief Fund will provide micro-grants to qualifying small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For information, visit here.
  • Salesforce Care Small Business Grants will be offering $10,000 grants to U.S. small businesses. For information, click here.
  • Business For All is offering grants up to $50,000 to support business growth, including $10,000 emergency COVID-19 Business for All Grants to help small businesses in crisis. Apply here.
  • ebay has launched an accelerator program called Up and Running to help retailers without an online presence transition to selling online. For information, click here.

Tax & Utility Waivers and Suspensions

  • New York State is waiving late and penalty fees for sales tax that is paid late. The federal tax deadline has been extended to July 15.
  • When filing business or excise tax payments to The City of New York, businesses can request to have penalties waived when submitting a late-filed extension or return. For information, visit the Department of Finance.
  • ConEd and National Grid has suspended shut-offs for any customers who may have difficulty paying their utility bills.

Resources for Employees

If you are a worker who has experienced a lay-off or reduction in ours, please review these resources. If you are a business owner, please share these with your staff.

  • Mental Health Services for Service Workers.
  • This easy questionnaire from the City will help you identify benefits like food and rent assistance that you are eligible for.
  • To file an unemployment claim, click here.
  • For kitchen staff, apply for a food prep position at Rethink Food in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They are currently hiring more staff to help them meet the rising demand for emergency response food service.

Resources for Community Members and Customers

Financial Help

  • The 1k Project uses personal networks to directly match a family impacted by the pandemic with a family committed to giving them $1k for 3 months. For information, click here.

Accessing Free or Low-Cost Food

  • Monday-Friday: suggested $3 lunch at Rethink Cafe (154 Clinton, just off Myrtle) between 11am-3pm. Meals will be provided to anyone regardless if they can pay the $3 or not.
  • Monday-Friday: three meals a day are available to grab-and-go from select NYC public schools, including PS 67 on St. Edwards St between Myrtle & Park Aves, for K-12 students from 7:30am-1:30pm. All meals can be picked up at the same day. To find which schools will be distributing meals and for a planned menu, visit schools.nyc.gov/freemeals.
  • EVERYDAY: free lunch for seniors 60+ is being delivered by the NYC Department of the Aging. To sign-up, please call (212) 244-6469 or 311. Note: meals are no longer available to pick up from senior centers.
  • To find a local food pantry or sign-up for food delivery service, please call 3-1-1

Food Resource Guide

Overcharging

If you witness overcharging in businesses, you are encouraged to report this to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs by calling 3-1-1 and saying “overcharge” or by visiting 311.nyc.gov and searching “overcharge.”


Resources For Neighbors Looking to Help

Supporting Local Businesses & Impacted Employees

We are encouraging everyone to continue to safely support local businesses and their employees. View our Business Support Guide for a full list of current deals, offers, adjusted services and innovative ways to support Myrtle Avenue’s local businesses.

Below are links to sites where customers can donate to support impacted workers and where impacted workers can apply for assistance from recently created worker support funds.

Please be advised that the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is not affiliated with any of these donation sites or campaigns and cannot guarantee how donated funds will be used

Supporting High-Risk Neighbors

You add your name to a growing list of neighbors on Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Mutual Aid group who are looking to help locals with any needs. Or sign-up through Invisible Hands.

Similarly, No Neighbors In Need NYC is a great place to find ways to donate, help neighbors, or submit ideas for advocacy, citywide.

If you already know a neighbor who may be in need of assistance, please check in with them.

Donate or Volunteer

A number of non-profits are continuing or expanding their foodservice operations, offering door-to-door delivery of food to seniors or those with mobility issues. Below is a growing list of organizations looking for donations of money or volunteers:


Additional Resources

In an effort to connect you to as many resources as possible, we are gathering citywide information and will post here.

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