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Berkeley creates fund to save small businesses amid coronavirus pandemic

Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to create a multi-million dollar fund to access the growing economic fallout caused by the novel coronavirus in an effort to save Berkeley’s small businesses.

Additionally, the Council adopted emergency legislation to prevent the eviction of residential tenants and small businesses during this emergency.

The fund will be used to support small businesses and their workers who may be struggling to pay rent.

It will also assist arts organizations that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

“Our community is taking decisive action to slow the spread of a virus that can turn deadly, but these necessary measures are also spelling disaster for small businesses and their workers,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said. “Social distancing is imperative, but it has and will continue to take a massive toll on the fabric of our communities. We are in this together, and I am so grateful to the generous souls who are pitching in to preserve Berkeley’s commercial corridors.”

Members of the public who are able to donate will be able to contribute, according to officials. The City of Berkeley will match the contributions with a starting donation of up to $3 million in public dollars.

Small businesses in Berkeley have seen a significant drop in customers, resulting in a 25 to 75-percent drop since the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the American Payroll Association, 74-percent of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.

The relief fund also unanimously enacted an urgency ordinance, making it one of the first cities in the state to prohibit the eviction of commercial tenants for non-payment of rent.

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