by PublicSource reporters
Urban Redevelopment Authority officials on Thursday updated the city on efforts to help households and businesses affected by COVID-19.
URA staff is preparing a small business recovery loan program that could extend as much as $75,000 to owners trying to rehire staff or restock inventory, and that could start in late June, pending board approval, said Jennifer Wilhelm, assistant director of the authority’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
That would add to a URA effort that already includes emergency loans of as much as $15,000, she said. The URA has made 160 such loans totaling $2.3 million.
The URA has also assembled around $4 million to help tenants and homeowners to make rent and mortgage payments — an amount which “will help approximately 1,000 households moving forward,” said Jessica Smith Perry, director of housing opportunities for the URA. The URA budget already included $1,015,000 for the Housing Stabilization Program prior to the crisis, to which the authority added $300,000, the city added $2 million in CARES Act money, the Pittsburgh Foundation donated $400,000 and Wells Fargo kicked in $40,000, she said. The URA is looking for more funding, she added.
The Housing Stabilization Program pays grants of as much as $3,000 to households below certain income levels whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic and shutdown, and applicants can start the process by calling 211.
Members of the city’s Housing Opportunity Fund Advisory Board said they were concerned that needs would surge — especially in minority populations — when a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expires on July 10.
“The inequality that existed before COVID-19 is just going to be all that much worse,” said Mark Masterson, an advisory board member who is executive director of the Northside Community Development Fund. “It’s going to be a tremendous amount of unemployment, especially in the hospitality industry.”
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