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Suffolk offers emergency help for tenants, small businesses

Small businesses across Long Island, including Main Street

Small businesses across Long Island, including Main Street in Patchogue, have been hit hard by the pandemic. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Help is on the way for renters and small business owners in Suffolk County burdened by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

County officials announced a new initiative, Bringing Assistance for COVID-19 and Kickstarting Support to Operating Professionals, which will distribute emergency rental assistance to tenants and provide nearly 150 small businesses with grants.

The funding comes as coronavirus cases surge once again nine months into the pandemic, wreaking economic havoc on residents and businesses.

People need tangible assistance more than ever, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

"This new rent relief program coupled with financial aid to struggling small businesses will provide help to some of our most vulnerable residents," he said in a news release.

Rebecca Sinclair, Suffolk County deputy commissioner of Economic Development and Planning, said people still have to make rental payments even though there are moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.

"This will help the folks who probably were at risk before COVID and are now at highest risk due to job loss or loss of housing."

Here is a look at the program by the numbers:

For renters

$2,500 is the maximum an applicant can receive.

The rent program, will provide a one-time rent payment to eligible applicants in an amount up to 100% of one month’s rent. This program is for residents in existing rental units, and applicants will be required to fill out and sign a self-certification form to verify their income and how they were affected by the pandemic.

Renters must occupy legal permanent housing in the county, so those living in hotels, motels or dorms do not qualify.

$600,000 is the total available to Suffolk residents, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A significant portion of income goes to pay for housing expenses on Long Island, which include rent and utilities or homeownership costs, such as mortgage, property taxes and insurance.

30% is the percentage of income that nearly six in 10 renters and more than one in three homeowners on the Island spend on housing, the Regional Plan Association said in an October report.

24% is the percentage increase of the region's median cost of housing since 2000 for renters and homeowners, according to the report.

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For small businesses

$5,000 is the maximum for businesses with up to 10 full-time employees.

$10,000 is the maximum for businesses with 11 to 50 full-time employees. Eligible businesses include gyms, hair salons and barber shops, nail salons, restaurants, bars and taverns.

$1 million is the amount available through federal Community Development Block Grant funding.

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Small businesses drive a large portion of the Island's economy. For the fourth quarter of 2018, the last period for which census data was available, businesses with up to 19 employees accounted for 140,692 of 571,138 private-sector jobs in Nassau and 154,535 of 566,274 jobs in Suffolk.

58% is the percentage of jobs generated by small businesses on Long Island, based on census date for fourth quarter 2018.

How to apply

Applications will be accepted from Dec. 17 to Jan. 15 via the Suffolk County website.

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