Minority & Women Business Owners Largely Shut Out Of COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program

April 27, 2020  |  

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The coronavirus continues to disproportionately affect underserved communities in health, and now in wealth, according to findings related to the government’s paycheck protection program.

Studies and researchers are finding that minority small business owners were largely shut out of the paycheck protection program which allocated $349 billion dollars. Those funds have since dried up. Black business owners are less likely to have a cushion of finances to help support their businesses and provide employee payroll as patrons and visitors adhere to stay-at-home orders across the country.

“Based on how the program is structured, we estimate that upwards of 90% of businesses owned by people of color have been, or will likely be, shut out of the Paycheck Protection Program,” said Ashley Harrington, director of federal advocacy and senior council for the Center for Responsible Lending, in an interview with CBS News. The Center for Responsible Lending does just that–examines illegal and abusive bank lending practices, and recently delved into the program’s findings in order to see if the funds were spread across businesses that truly needed the monies.

“Roughly 95% of Black-owned businesses, 91% of Latino-owned businesses, 91% of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander-owned businesses, and 75% of Asian-owned businesses stand close to no chance of receiving a PPP loan through a mainstream bank or credit union,” the center warned in a statement on April 6 as the first round of the PPP began taking applications.

Last week, stories of companies returning multi-million dollar loans, like the New York-based Shake Shack, circulated on the internet, framing the give-back as heroism. However, the act lent itself to discussions regarding why major corporations, some with ties to Trump, were considered over true small business owners.

Banks and lenders continued to stay true to some of the same practices that contributed to the disenfranchisement of minority business owners including, only lending monies to businesses that already have an existing line of credit, and/or prioritizing larger loan applications, CBS News reports.

On Friday, Trump signed into order a $484 billion economic relief package where $310 billion for the paycheck protection program and $120 billion for small businesses, after the monies in the first round were depleted. The PPP money is expected to help small and local businesses around the country float for eight weeks as local and state governments adapt a variety of outcomes for Americans to return to work.

Black business owners already faced multiple levels of disenfranchisement and will have to weather the storm of a pandemic with unprecedented challenges and concerns.

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