With the continuous economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders in San Francisco’s Chinatown are asking Mayor London Breed for additional financial support to stay afloat.
On Monday, Dec. 14, nine organizations—including the Chinatown Community Development Center—wrote a letter to Mayor Breed asking for $5 million in grants to help local businesses pay their employees and stay open.
“The impact of COVID-19 on San Francisco’s Chinatown started early and has been particularly severe,” the letter states, We Are Resonate reports. “We must take all possible measures to protect this neighborhood for, if we do not, Chinatown’s century long history may be lost forever.”
According to KRON4, a recent survey found that 50% of the businesses believe they might not survive the pandemic. For business owners such as Chelsea Hung, this belief slowly becomes a reality. After outdoor dining was shut down, she had to lay off many employees, and now that her PPP funding has run out, she worries for the future of her restaurant and bakery.
“It’s an uphill battle,” Hung said, KRON4 reported. “It’s been really unpredictable, it’s really hard to see how we’re going to survive or how long we’re going to survive.”
In the letter to the mayor, organizations also asked for daily street cleaning and free parking to encourage people to visit Chinatown. Additionally, they asked for $4.2 million for businesses to partner with nonprofits such as San Francisco New Deal, as well as $2 million to go towards Chinatown funding.
Businesses are struggling more than ever now, especially with events such as the Chinese New Year parade going virtual this year.
However, the struggle has been going on longer due to the xenophobia remarks that President Trump made early on that characterized the coronavirus as the China flu. What was once a hotspot for locals and tourists now is desolate as shops succumb to the economic fallout.
In response to the letter, the mayor’s spokesperson said they are scheduling a meeting with the organizations that signed the letter to discuss “immediate relief.”
“We know how important Chinatown is — for the identity of our city, the benefit to our cultural and economic vitality, and the workers and residents it supports,” the statement said, We Are Resonate reports.
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