Berkeley raises nearly $4.5M to help 700 small businesses, tenants struggling during pandemic

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- The city of Berkeley raised and distributed more than $4.43 million to help tenants, struggling businesses and non-profits during this pandemic.

How did they do it?

"The city provided the initial $3 million dollar contribution into the 'Berkeley Relief Fund' and we've raised I think over $1.4 million dollars in private donations in the Berkeley community," said Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

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According to the City of Berkeley this is how they allocated the funds: $1.67 million to 700 small businesses, 251 restaurants, 142 retail establishments, 85 personal services and 222 other businesses.

$955 also went to 63 arts organizations.

More than $1 million from March through June will help 214 households of tenants financially impacted by the pandemic.

Small businesses were chosen based on these factors.

"We are looking at loss of business, income, economic hardship," said Mayor Arreguin.

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In downtown Berkeley, Revival Bar and Kitchen is one of hundreds set to receive financial assistance.

"I didn't want to turn the stoves off. I wanted to keep going as much as possible through take-out and service work to stay alive," said Murray.

Revival Bar and Kitchen went from a 50-person staff to 5. As 2021 approaches, Murray says her bills are piling up. Murray's biggest concern is rent.

"The only thing that is certain is the uncertainty. We still don't have a resolution with our landlord," said Murray.

There are more than 5,000 small businesses in Berkeley.

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"The bulk of Berkeley's tax pays are small businesses. We want to get them through this pandemic," said Berkeley's Mayor Jesse Arreguín.

Hoping to rescue these businesses and the economy, Mayor Arreguin announced the relief fund.

Berkeley officials are also urging community members and companies to donate to the fund and to shop local on Small Business Saturday.

"We are a very small family businesses and in times like this we really need the support of the local people as much," said Neetu Aggarwal, co-owner of Barbarian.

To donate to the Berkeley Relief Fund, click here

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