Sunday, July 15, 2018

Tag Archives: United for Small Business

As More and More Small Businesses Are Forced To Close, New York City Loses Its Heart and Soul

As More and More Small Businesses Are Forced To Close, New York City Loses Its Heart and Soul

New York City Commercial Tenants Are at Risk of Displacement

Another of New York’s beloved eating establishments has closed down. Cup and Saucer, a staple on the Lower East Side for thirty years, was forced to shutter its gates for the last time as a result of a massive $7,600 monthly increase in rent*.

Cup and Saucer is only one of New York’s longstanding small businesses that have been forced to close in recent years. Venerable institutions such as Del Rio in Bensonhurst and the 53 year old Market Diner in Hell’s Kitchen shut down after decades of serving their communities, forced to close because of high rents and little protections to help them stay in the neighborhood. Newcomers aren’t immune to rent hikes and displacement pressures either. In 2016, Flushing lost one of its core grocery stores, a Met Foods that was replaced by condos. In Prospect Lefferts Gardens, AbunDance Academy of the Arts – a neighborhood dance studio and wellness center – had to close after they couldn’t afford to renew their lease. Countless other small businesses across the city dangerously toe the line between flourishing and disappearing since they operate without a lease, are subject to rent hikes or evictions at any time, and have little protections to ensure their success.

With Cup and Saucer and AbunDance gone, parts of a neighborhood disappear. A place to convene and commune fades. And New York City, though it continues to grow and prosper, does so at the expense of its longtime residents and businesses. United for Small Business NYC (USBnyc), a coalition of community groups fighting to preserve New York’s small businesses recognizes in its platform that New York City’s true success hinges on ensuring that all its residents have access to opportunity and community resources and that its small businesses have access to protections and city resources.  That includes more funding for resources for existing small businesses, fines for landlords who raise rents and then leave vacant storefronts empty, and the creation and maintenance of affordable commercial spaces. New York’s small businesses are its heart and soul – when they disappear, New York disappears.


*An earlier version of this post indicated that the monthly rent for Cup and Saucer increased by $15,000, not $7,600. The restaurant’s rent went from $8,200 a month to over $15,000 a month.


Lena Afridi, ANHD’s Policy Coordinator for Equitable Economic Development

City Enacts New Small Business Protections

Today commercial tenants experiencing harassment are able to take legal action for the first time, thanks to a new law authored by Councilmember Robert Cornegy. This legislation, supported by ANHD and the United for Small Businesses NYC coalition, is the first step in a long road to creating real, meaningful commercial tenant protections and just part of a much needed, broader toolkit of small business supports.

This law breaks new ground when it comes to fighting small business displacement in New York City, but it also only scratches the surface of what our small businesses need. In order for this new law to be truly effective, funding for legal services must be allocated toward enforcing the commercial tenant anti-harassment law and the scope of tenant harassment must be clearly defined.

The broader toolkit of protections needs to address the multitude of issues faced by small businesses – from tenant harassment to access to credit. Strategies to support and strengthen small businesses across the city must be broad and inclusive.

Financing tools and credit building resources should be made available to the City’s small business owners.  A strong commercial maintenance code, like that which exists for residential units, must be created and then enforced. Similar to residential tenants, commercial tenants need explicitly defined rights beyond the terms of a lease.

Small businesses are cornerstones of our city and neighborhoods. They provide jobs, culturally relevant goods and services, and community, keeping our neighborhoods thriving and vibrant places to live. In the face of a growing small-business displacement problem, advocates, business owners, and their workers are challenging policy makers to come up with a vision for effective policies and programs that support and protect our City’s small businesses.

United for Small Business, a working group convened by ANHD, has been working to ensure that New York’s small businesses have the support they need to thrive.  United for Small Business NYC includes community organizations from across New York City fighting to protect New York’s small businesses and non-residential tenants from the threat of displacement, with a particular focus on owner-operated, low-income, minority-run businesses that serve low-income, immigrant and minority communities.

The displacement of neighborhood institutions not only threatens New York’s identity, but also eliminates jobs, community spaces, and affordable resources in low and moderate income communities of color. Small business displacement is cultural displacement. As the City’s small businesses disappear at an alarming rate, it is vital to implement robust protections to ensure their survival, invest resources to help them grow and thrive, and in turn ensure the vitality and vibrancy of New York’s neighborhoods. ANHD and USBnyc applaud the new law and its step forward to try and protect small businesses, and we call on City elected officials, agencies, and key stakeholders to move forward on the long road to creating real and meaningful protections, supports, and enforcement of the rights of small businesses across New York.