Sunday, July 15, 2018

Tag Archives: USBnyc

New Program Begins Shifting Power Back to Commercial Tenants

New Program Begins Shifting Power Back to Commercial Tenants

Today, community groups, legal service providers, and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) launched the Commercial Lease Assistance Program, a new effort to address the power imbalance between commercial tenants and the landlords who exploit them by providing small businesses with legal services on leasing. The new program serves as a crucial extension of the policy advanced by United for Small Business NYC (USBNYC), the Commercial Tenant Anti-Harassment Law. USBNYC members Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Chhaya CDC, Cooper Square Committee, Cypress Hills Development Corporation, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC), Urban Justice Center, and Volunteers of Legal Service will work alongside African Communities Together and Pan-African Community Development Initiative to connect small business owners with legal service providers who can inform them of their rights.

Small businesses are a central component to New York City’s economic and cultural vitality. However, they have historically lacked the protections needed to protect them from unscrupulous landlords. Working with Councilmember Robert Cornegy, United for Small Business NYC members successfully ensured the passage of the Commercial Tenant Anti-Harassment Law in 2016. While the law, the first of its kind in the nation, defined commercial tenant harassment and established a private right of action for commercial tenants experiencing harassment, it lacked funding for legal services to educate and inform business owners of their rights.

At a time when our neighborhood small businesses are rapidly being displaced, providing legal services is crucial to empowering them against displacement pressures. USBNYC members recognize that small business displacement is cultural displacement, and the new Commercial Lease Assistance Program provides needed resources to empower small businesses to fight back.

 

Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen, ANHD’s Campaign Coordinator for Equitable Economic Development

Council Small Business Report Includes Key Provisions of USBNYC Platform

Council Small Business Report Includes Key Provisions of USBNYC Platform

The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) and United for Small Business NYC (USBNYC) applaud City Council on the release of their 2017 report, Planning for Retail Diversity: Supporting NYC’s Neighborhood Businesses. The report provides a timely and broad analysis of issues faced by independent retailers across the five boroughs and offers a robust template of policy solutions and recommendations to address these problems. It is the first time the Administration has provided a detailed platform to address the crisis of retail displacement in New York City, an ongoing issue that impacts small businesses and commercial corridors citywide.

USBNYC is pleased that Council supports several of the Coalition’s platform priorities and recommendations, including:

  • The development of a commercial development fund,
  • The designation of meaningful enforcement responsibilities to the Department of Small Business Services (SBS),
  • An increase in access to small business data,
  • And the implementation of a count of vacant commercial properties as part of citywide Community Development Needs Assessments.

We hope that in 2018, Council takes the necessary steps to implement these recommendations through enforceable and robust legislation.

The displacement of neighborhood institutions not only threatens New York’s identity, but it also eliminates jobs, community spaces, and affordable resources in low- and moderate-income communities of color. As the city’s small businesses disappear at an alarming rate, it is vital to implement robust protections to ensure their survival, and in turn ensure the vitality and vibrancy of New York’s neighborhoods. We look forward to working with the Council to implement these recommendations and stem the continuing loss of small businesses in our communities.

 

 

 

 

Lena Afridi, ANHD’s Policy Coordinator for Economic Development

Taking Care of Business: Understanding Commercial Displacement in New York City

Taking Care of Business: Understanding Commercial Displacement in New York City

New York City’s small businesses are in the midst of a displacement crisis. As stores shutter and communities lose long-time institutions, the mechanisms and realities of this crisis are left under-examined. The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) analyzed the economic vitality of small businesses across the city, neighborhood-by-neighborhood.

In our 2017 report, Taking Care of Business: Understanding Commercial Displacement in New York City, we focus on New York’s small businesses, which ANHD defines as firms with 20 or fewer employees. The analysis examines the small business landscape in New York City, neighborhood-by-neighborhood. Our hope is that this information helps spark more informed and in-depth conversations among community groups and policy makers to develop effective strategies to serve and support New York City’s small businesses.

KEY FINDINGS

Overall, New York City saw a 2% rise in total business creation over the past five years. This means that there were slightly more businesses in the City in 2016 than there were in 2011. While the percentage of businesses in New York grew over the course of five years, net change varied widely by neighborhood.

Manhattan as a whole experienced the most decline in total business, with every neighborhood except Chelsea and Central Harlem experiencing a net loss in businesses. Queens and Staten Island saw the most net growth, with a 4% and 5% rise in businesses overall, while total businesses in Brooklyn and the Bronx grew by a smaller 1% and 2%, respectively. While the outer boroughs all saw a net increase in businesses, Manhattan experienced a 2% net loss, with the greatest decrease in businesses concentrated in Stuy Town and in the Upper East Side. As New York’s neighborhoods change, the City needs to ensure that long-standing businesses have the necessary support and opportunity to survive and thrive.

Manhattan is still home to the largest concentration of businesses in the City, with 44.4% of all of New York businesses located in the borough. Brooklyn follows with 23.8% of businesses and Queens follows close behind with 20.5% as home to all New York firms. The Bronx and Staten Island lag much further behind, home to only 7.5% and 3.9% of all of New York City’s businesses.

Tracking changes in businesses by neighborhood is crucial, especially changes in small businesses, since 26% of all jobs in New York City are at firms with 20 or fewer employees. In immigrant and majority people of color neighborhoods, employment in small businesses tends to be much higher.

Businesses in the outer boroughs still receive much fewer small business loans, at half the rate of Manhattan businesses, which received an average of 2,783 loans. Bronx businesses received the fewest loans at an average of 439 loans across the borough, while Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island fared better with a respective borough-wide average of 1,742, 1,509, and 1,454 businesses receiving loans. Outside of the Bronx, Brownsville and East Harlem similarly received among the fewest loans citywide, at 260 and 635 respectively — much lower than the citywide average of 1,623 loans. This pattern suggests that communities of color, in particular communities in the Bronx and upper Manhattan, are losing access to localized economic development and opportunity. The lack of small business financing in these neighborhoods means a lack of small business jobs, which are sorely needed in communities with among the highest rates of unemployment in the city. Small business loans must be made accessible to all of New York’s communities not just it’s wealthiest.

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. As the city’s small businesses disappear at an alarming rate, it is vital to implement robust protections to ensure their survival, and in turn ensure the vitality and vibrancy of New York’s neighborhoods.

 

Click here to download our full report.

Click here to download your copy of the Understanding Commercial Displacement in New York City 2017 Chart.

 

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

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

Advocates Launch Small Business Anti-Displacement Platform

Advocates Launch Small Business Anti-Displacement Platform

Group calls for City to Focus on Preventing Commercial Displacement

Today, advocates launched the platform for United for Small Business NYC (USBnyc), a coalition of community organizations across New York City fighting to protect New York’s small businesses and non-residential tenants from the threat of displacement, with particular focus on owner-operated, low-income, minority-run businesses that serve low-income and minority communities. As part of their platform launch, USBnyc outlined recommendations to prevent small business displacement through a variety of policy and legislative solutions. In the coming months, the coalition will engage community organizations, commercial corridors, and elected officials to fight back against commercial displacement together.

“For all of the progress we have made over decades to establish and protect the rights of residential tenants, the rights of commercial tenants are largely limited to what’s in their lease,” said Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director at the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD). “With gentrification and displacement threatening the viability of commercial tenants in neighborhoods across the city, City Hall needs to develop tools to protect small businesses, create affordable space, and regulate bad landlords.”

Under the threat of landlord harassment, impending displacement, and a lack of city resources, USBnyc aims to create strong, lasting protections for commercial tenants. The coalition was successful in helping pass last year’s commercial tenant anti-harassment legislation, which for the first time ever allows commercial tenants to legislate against unscrupulous landlords. Now, businesses are looking to build on the framework of the commercial tenant harassment legislation by expanding the definition and providing legal services for small businesses.

“Small businesses provide employment to local residents. There have been many situations that made our businesses in the Northwest Bronx harder to manage. Landlords have raised rents, they stopped renewing leases” said Christian Ramos, President of the Northwest Bronx Merchants’ Association. “We have the right to stay. We have the right to free legal services. Immigrant business owners also need protection and resources to survive. We need stronger legislation in the city that protects small business owners.”

However, not all commercial corridors are experiencing the same challenges. While some areas have small businesses struggling to hold on, others are marked by vacant storefronts. These vacant storefronts became a reality as landlords wait for tenants who will pay high rents and receive no penalties for commercial warehousing. As a citywide coalition, the United for Small Business NYC platform targets this challenge by calling for the creation of a penalty system for commercial warehousing as well as new financial tools to facilitate development of affordable commercial space by non-profit entities.

“There are numerous storefronts that have been sitting vacant for many months, after landlords like Icon Realty bought out commercial tenants or refused to renew leases. While they sit and wait for some chain store or bank to lease their space, countless aspiring small business owners, many of them immigrants, lose an opportunity to make their American dream come true,” said Steve Herrick, Executive Director of Cooper Square Committee. “It’s time for the City to pursue an aggressive agenda to preserve small businesses, which reflect the character of our communities.”

“For the past 25 years, WHEDco has worked to ensure that residents across the South Bronx have access to the resources we all need to thrive, including economic opportunity. Many of the local entrepreneurs we serve are immigrants operating in low-income communities. They’re continually faced with an uphill battle because of limited access to capital that prevents them from growing, ever-increasing rents and operating costs, and predatory landlords that harass them with unreasonable demands,” says Kerry McLean, Vice President of Community Development at WHEDco. “As a founding member of USBnyc, WHEDco is proud to add our 25 years of community development experience to the depth of expertise shared by the coalition’s members.”

Advocates urge the City to take action on these challenges, stressing that the continued displacement of small businesses from New York’s communities exacerbates the cultural displacement underway citywide.

“Small business owners, the lifeblood of New York City, have very few protections under the law,” said Gowri Krishna, Community Development Project at Urban Justice Center. “We support USBnyc’s efforts to commercial tenants and help ensure their sustainability.”

“BKA believes that small businesses are vitally important to the low-income, minority communities that we serve,” said Meah Clay, Senior Staff Attorney for Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A’s Community and Economic Development Program. “We strongly support the fight to preserve small businesses against displacement in the face of rapid re-zonings and gentrification.”

“This is a critical time for Small Businesses in New York City. Nearly half of all Small Business in NYC are immigrant owned and operated; these businesses are the unique makeup of our communities,” said Annette Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC. “Immigrant business owners in Queens are facing increasing competition and community displacement. It is important to advocate on behalf of the immigrant small business community and push for systemic change that improves the well-being of all small business owners.”

 

USBnyc Membership

Asian Americans for Equality, ANHD, Banana Kelly CIA, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), Chhaya CDC, Community Development Project-Urban Justice Center, Cooper Square Committee, Fifth Avenue Committee, Fourth Arts Block, Make the Road NY, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Pratt Center for Community Development, Spaceworks NYC, Street Vendor Project, Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS), WHEDco

USBNYC and ANHD Support Yemeni and Muslim Small Business Strike

United for Small Business NYC (USBNYC), a coalition convened by ANHD, supports Muslim bodega and grocery owners striking today in response to the “Muslim ban” executive order. USBNYC 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 and immigrant-run businesses that serve low-income, immigrant, and minority communities.

New York’s small businesses are what make this city special both nationally and worldwide. USBNYC is committed to ensuring that the city’s immigrant and minority owned businesses thrive. Small business displacement – whether through speculation, gentrification, harassment, or draconian immigration policy – is cultural displacement and undermines the fabric of New York’s neighborhoods. Immigrants and refugees make up almost half of all New York City small business owners, making them a fundamental part of the city’s unique diversity. In a time of great uncertainty and explicit attacks on Muslims and people of color across the country, it is vital to stand up for our communities and for our neighbors. In order to propel and show support for the City’s rich history of immigrant enterprise, we stand with Yemeni and Muslim small businesses today and every day.

Yemeni American Community

Let’s Lift the Caps on Permits for Street Vendors

Let’s Lift the Caps on Permits for Street Vendors

United for Small Business NYC (USBnyc), a working group convened by ANHD, supports lifting the caps on permits for street vendors.

lift-the-caps_final

After 30 years of waiting, many of New York City’s street vendors may finally be able to operate legally. United for Small Business NYC (USBnyc), a working group convened by ANHD, supports lifting the caps on permits for street vendors.

Permits for street vendors have been capped at 3,000 since the early 1980s, frozen since the Koch Administration. This has led to a booming underground market in which permits are valued at up to $25,000; this is in comparison to just $200 for the rare few who are able to get a permit direct from the City. As a result, many hard working vendors are operating without a permit and risking criminal penalties or paying to go to work.

Many hard working vendors are operating without a permit and risking criminal penalties or paying to go to work.

The proposed Street Vendor Modernization Act, spearheaded by the Street Vendor Project, lifts the caps on permits and decriminalizes vending while increasing economic opportunity for New Yorkers across the City. Last week, the New York City Council held an eight-hour hearing on Councilmember Mark Levine’s proposed legislation that would create enforcement of the street vendor permitting process and incrementally double the number of vendor permits over the next seven years.

New York’s street vendors are small businesses. They are central to our neighborhoods and communities by providing jobs and culturally relevant goods. In a climate where small businesses routinely face displacement, vendors are among the most vulnerable.

In a climate where small businesses routinely face displacement, vendors are among the most vulnerable.

United for Small Business NYC (USBnyc) 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 and immigrant-run businesses that serve low-income, immigrant, and minority communities.  New York’s small businesses and vendors need robust and strong protections to ensure their success.

Street vendors are struggling for many of the same reasons many brick and mortar businesses are closing: high cost of rents, gentrification, and harassment. Lifting the caps on permits for street vendors is a necessary part of a larger toolkit for establishing meaningful protections for all small businesses.

Lifting the caps on permits for street vendors is a necessary part of a larger toolkit for establishing meaningful protections for all small businesses.

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.