Kevin La owns the Jasmine Beauty School near the Rolando neighborhood in District 4 of San Diego. He has been training hairdressers, beauticians and nail technicians for more than two years.
When the pandemic forced his company to close last March, he applied for and received both a paycheck protection program loan and $ 10,000 from the City of San Diego’s Small Business Relief Fund.
“We used it for overheads like payroll, rent and electricity,” La told NBC 7.
Without that money, La said, “There’s a good chance we had to shut down permanently.”
The Small Business Relief Fund distributed grants and microloans between $ 1,000 and $ 20,000.
To be eligible for the Small Business Relief Fund, companies must be in San Diego, have a valid San Diego business tax certificate, employ fewer than 100 people, have been in business for at least six months, and have demonstrated economic difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak have to.
An analysis by NBC 7 Investigates found that nearly $ 17 million was spent on local businesses as part of the program. However, when compared to other areas in San Diego, District 4 companies – which include Encanto, Skyline, and Lincoln Park – were getting much less money. only $ 309,000. This is compared to District 3, which includes Downtown, Hillcrest, and South Park, where businesses received nearly $ 5 million, and District 2, which includes Clairemont, Pacific Beach, and Point Loma, and a little over $ 3 million -Dollar.
District 4 Councilor Monica Montgomery Steppe’s office said District 4 only accounts for 4% of all businesses in San Diego, one reason why it hasn’t been awarded that much money.
NBC 7’s analysis found that 189 District 4 companies have submitted applications. Fifty of these were approved – a rate of about 26%, which is the same as many other districts.
Some business owners didn’t even apply for the program.
“The initial feedback from small businesses in our affected communities was that the request for small business relief was too onerous,” Montgomery Steppe told NBC 7. “In response to your feedback, my office led the indictment establishing the Strategic Alliance of Ethnic Chambers to provide technical assistance to disadvantaged companies. “
And it’s not just District 4 – last July, many minority-owned companies from across the city told NBC 7 Investigates that the program was not working on an equal footing.
The business owners said certain criteria, such as poor credit ratings or criminal records, indirectly prevented them from qualifying for the financial assistance.
But even those who said they met all the conditions were turned down.
Malaysia Yancey is the owner of GYSL Bakery in San Diego. She has been baking cakes and cupcakes professionally since 2017. She did not apply for or receive any money from the San Diego Business Relief Fund.
“I got a woman from the office on the phone and she said I didn’t get the grant or loan approval,” Yancey said. “She didn’t give a description of why I wasn’t approved.”
Yancey thought she had filled in something wrong on the application.
“I thought it was just myself, not knowing that there were other people out there who didn’t get it that well,” said Yancey.
Yancey said she had no choice but to put her baking business on hold and get another job to pay the bills. But she still dreams of running her own bakery again.
“I’m over anyone who comes and just gives me something,” said Yancey. “If I want something, I’ll go out and get it.”
The City of San Diego originally provided $ 20 million for the Business Relief Fund. A spokesman said approximately $ 3 million of that amount was used to house the homeless population at the San Diego Convention Center during the height of COVID-19.