ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and other city leaders announced a new $500,000 grant program designed to give small business money to upgrade their storefronts. The goal is to make them nicer and safer.
"If you go outside right now, you can take a look at some of the businesses that are boarded," Mayor Thorpe said. "They may not have the capitol to make the investments we would like them to see."
Mayor Thorpe met with small business store owners Monday in south Antioch. Many of them say the area is filled with unhoused individuals and crime is rampant. Nisha Toor and her family own a convenience store next to a closed supermarket. They say unhoused use the store for shelter. Two weeks ago, a fire broke out inside the building and caused enough damage to the point where fire officials forced them to close.
"They came in and said our fire alarm is out of code as well as the sprinklers," Toor said. "They said 'you have to close, it is no longer safe to operate."'
Her family has owned that store for over 20 years. Now, there is a fence around the entire building. It is a sight commonly seen in the entire neighborhood.
"People don't want to come out," said Jaz, the owner of Veer Da Dhaba Market and Restaurant. "They don't want to shop because while they are here eating, their cars are getting broken."
The new grant money will be prioritized for businesses who are in areas of high crime. The city will use census data to determine that. Any business owner who applies and gets approved will get between $5,000-$20,000. They say upgrading the storefront will make it more appealing for people to shop at. Mayor Thorpe says it is not solely going to fix the issues, but it will be another tool for the city to help the community.
"I would never say one strategy is going to fix all the problems," Mayor Thorpe said. "Just like I am going to say adding all these police is not going to solve the problems. It has to be collective strategies in order to have a meaningful impact."
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