We hope you’re staying healthy in these stressful times. As many monthly rent checks are coming due, we know this is a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. But know that we here at Hapco are working hard to get answers for you. If you’re following us online, you already know we have calls and emails out to ALL federal, state and local elected leaders in Philadelphia seeking clarity and information on services, loans and grant money that may become available to landlords and/or tenants. We also encourage you to write to our elected officials. On a state level, we are in regular contact with PROA, the statewide association, of which Hapco carries influence as the largest chapter. Here is what PROA is telling us:
Small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency can apply now for low-interest state loans. The COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program will feature a low interest rate, no application fees, and payments and interest waived during the first year of the loan. Loans of up to $100,000 will be available for small businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees to use as working capital. The program will be administered by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, which said it intends for the turnaround time for loan approval to be a matter of days. Additional information on the program is available here. Business owners who are interested in applying should contact their local Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO). A list of CEDOs is available here.
Financing Programs for COVID-19 Impacted Businesses
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, ac- counts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The inter- est rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
Businesses may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or by email at email@example.com.
Loan applications can also be downloaded at here. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website here. Completed applications should be returned to the local DLOC or mailed to:
U.S. Small Business Administration
Processing and Disbursement Center
14925 Kingsport Road
Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The deadline to return economic injury disaster loan applications is Dec. 21, 2020. Tel: 1.800.659.2955 (1.800.877.8339 for the hearing impaired)
PIDA Low-Interest Loans
The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) offers low-interest loans and lines of credit for eligible businesses that commit to creating and retaining full-time jobs for the development of industrial parks and multi-tenant facilities. Loan applications are packaged and underwritten by a network of certified economic development organizations (CEDOs) that partner with PIDA to administer the program.
Tel: 717.783.5046 | Find your local certified economic development organization
Additional State Services
In addition, the PA Department of Labor & Industry has programs to assist businesses im- pacted by COVID-19. The Shared-Work program can help keep employees attached to your workplace by allowing an employer to temporarily reduce work hours rather than resorting to layoffs. You can reach the Shared-Work team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, if you are a business that has had to close either temporarily, consider layoffs, or is financially at-risk for permanent closure the Rapid Response Assistance Program is available to assist you with a variety of services and resources to help you and your em- ployees. You can reach the Rapid Response team via email at RA-LI-BWPO-Rapid@pa.gov.
House Bill 68 amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to ease eligibility requirements and access to unemployment compensation for workers impacted by the coronavirus, including waiving the one-week waiting period for all claimants during the governor’s disaster declaration. Job search and registration requirements for claimants will be waived. The measure provides automatic relief from benefit charges for any employer whose account would otherwise be charged for weeks of unemployment occurring during the duration of a disaster emergency.
House Bill 1232 amends the Fiscal Code to provide up to $50 million in additional funding to healthcare facilities for the purchase of medical equipment and supplies to address the demands that COVID-19 could place on the state’s healthcare system. It extends the dead- line to declare and pay estimated Personal Income Tax and authorizes the Department of Community and Economic Development to coordinate with local political subdivisions to extend filing and payment deadlines for the local Earned Income Tax. These deadlines have been extended to July 15, 2020. In addition, it extends the temporary regulations related to Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis industry until November 2021.
We are also waiting on specific information from the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services (regarding rent assistance), Catholic Social Services, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Here you’ll find resources for busi- nesses affected by COVID-19, and an extensive list of businesses given waivers/exemptions to remain open.
Additionally, we are reaching out to all local media pushing for news coverage to suggest the steps tenants should take if they’re struggling to make their rent payments. It is critical that Hapco has a voice in what is becoming a very public conversation.
Topping the list of steps tenants must take is communicating with their landlord. To that end, you may consider sending an email or letter to your tenants.
Be clear that there has been no confirmed direct order from any local or state officials for land- lords to stop collecting rent. We do expect our tenants to make their regular monthly payment. A suggested letter is below. (Please change, modify, and delete contents to suit your personal and business circumstances. This letter is solely a sample for your reference and as a courtesy. It does not in any way impart legal advice or suggest how you should manage your affairs.)
I sincerely hope that everyone is doing well during this most uncertain time. My family and I are practicing social distancing and continue to listen to the news for updates regarding COVID-19.
Of course, we are all feeling the financial burden, my family included. Please understand that a lease agreement is a legal document not to be broken. However, if anyone has been financially impacted to the extent that they cannot make their full on-time payment, please email me immediately, and we can set up a phone call to discuss options on a case-by-case basis. I belong to HAPCO, Philadelphia’s largest landlord association, and many landlords have discussed various ways we can support tenants who are out of work due to the current situation, which may include waiving late fees, creating payment plans for missed rent, and other accommodations as needs arise. In the meantime, if you anticipate a financial hard- ship, please take the following steps:
- Communicate with me BEFORE the rent is due.
- Determine if you qualify for programs like unemployment benefits, SNAP (the Supple-mental Nutrition Assistance Program, i.e., “food stamps”), and industry-specific support(for example, the U.S. Bartenders Guild is raising money to help its members.)
- Connect with Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services for agencies that may provideassistance with rent. You can find a list of agencies here.
- Write to your state and local elected officials expressing the importance of directing newfederal Coronavirus funding specifically to pay to keep people in their homes during this crisis.
Hapco members: we will continued to keep you updated as new information comes in. We value your membership, and recognize the anxiety many are feeling. If you have any specif- ic questions, ideas or information to share, please let us know. We are here for you.