Garcetti says L.A. will give small businesses low-interest loans through $11 million fund

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday evening city officials are working to provide an $11 million fund to help small businesses struggling amid COVID-19 closures.

“We will roll this out quickly,” Garcetti told reporters during a 5:15 p.m. conference call during which he spoke remotely.

Fifty new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Los Angeles County Tuesday for a total of 144 throughout its cities.

The city has seen a drastic decline in traffic — on freeways, surface streets and sidewalks, as businesses across L.A. have shuttered due to an order Garcetti issued Sunday.

Again reminding residents to not hoard groceries and stay indoors, the mayor said L.A. city officials are working to help vulnerable populations during the pandemic. He said the city is eyeing hotels and motels that can potentially shelter homeless individuals. And he made a statement in solidarity with immigrants hours after the Los Angeles Times reported on ICE agents preparing to make arrests, armed with respiratory masks.

“We, as always, are going to stand with our immigrants,” Garcetti said. “Additional fear at a moment of extreme stress is the last thing families need to face.”

Speaking about the new loan program, Garcetti said it will benefit more than 2,000 businesses throughout the city “right away.”

“We remain focused on those workers and families right on the edge,” he said.

The city will also be offering a “small business resilience toolkit,” Garcetti said, which includes measures helping businesses at city, county and state levels.

The usual loan requirements of favorable credit and a solid cash flow apply to the loans being offered, according to a list of requirements for eligibility.

They can amount to $5,000 to $20,000 with an interest rate of 0% for a term of six months to one year, or a second option with an interest rate of 3% to 5% for a term of up to 5 years.

The program is being rolled out amid other public initiatives like Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order allowing for local moratoriums on evictions, something L.A. County has already done.

The mayor would not say how long school closures can be expected for Los Angeles Unified School District — Newsom said California students may not return to class before summer. Meanwhile, Garcetti said officials are working to ensure everyone who can stays inside.

“Social distancing is everything in this fight,” Garcetti said.

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