'Chasing money:' Some SF small business owners skeptical of Breed's $62M relief program

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Mayor London Breed announced a $62 million relief plan Monday for small businesses in San Francisco struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

The program triples support from the city with $12.4 million in grants and $50 million in zero to low interest loans.

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"We especially want to target those businesses that are located in high need neighborhoods, that are operated by those who have had less success accessing existing programs, like businesses owned by women and people of color," said Mayor Breed.

It's a bit of hope for two Black women in business, boutique owner, Arlene Cook, and trainer and life coach, Lawanda Dickerson.

"Representation is everything," said Dickerson, who says a grant would go a long way towards keeping U3Fit, her Bayview fitness business afloat. "I need help, I need my employees back, and I also need to expand through technology," she said.

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The City of San Francisco says it is following state guidelines when it comes to vaccine distribution, prioritizing workers in health care settings and skilled nursing facilities.

Cook said during the pandemic, she has applied for 40 different loan and grant programs to keep her Richmond District clothing store open, but has only been approved for three.

"I apply for everything and I hope that I get something. I'd be happy if I got a dollar to be honest with you," she said.

Cook says she's operating at less than 30% of normal and says she'll apply for Breed's new programs, but isn't overly optimistic she'll be approved.

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"There was already a people of color grant and there was already a women of color grant, and there's three women of color on Clement Street and none of us got any of it."

"It's just like you're chasing money, it's like you're begging for it," said Cook.

Breed's relief plan still requires approval from the Board of Supervisors.

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