In this month’s column, Pittsburgh’s District 1 Councilman Bobby Wilson and District 6 Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle share their messages for Northsiders.
Photo of City Council Chamber by Ashlee Green
We hope you are doing well in these difficult times. We realize that the coronavirus outbreak poses many new and difficult challenges to our communities and our economy. As we pause our lives to stay home and stop the virus’s spread, we are thankful for all the front line responders—the police, paramedics, firefighters, refuse workers, delivery drivers, grocery store workers, nurses, doctors, Allegheny County Health Department employees, and all healthcare workers—who are keeping our city safe and running. In this column, we want to share several new resources for our residents and small businesses.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) recently partnered with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh to create the Housing Stabilization Fund. This fund will provide financial help to those whose hours have been cut or who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak and are finding it difficult to pay their rent or mortgage and utilities. It is particularly geared towards helping tenants at or below 50% of the area median income (AMI) to pay their rent and utilities and homeowners at or below 80% AMI to stay current on their mortgage payments. If you need this financial help, please call the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh at (412) 227-4164 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your city address, two most recent pay stubs, and a letter from your employer verifying your situation.
The URA has also instituted two* measures to lessen the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on local small businesses. These include:
• Halting all loan payments to the URA from small business borrowers for the month of April 2020
• Offering its current small business borrowers Emergency Extended Credit, up to an additional $15,000 at 0% interest, to ease cash flow difficulties over the next several weeks
If you run a small business and need help right now, please contact Tom Link at email@example.com or Jennifer Wilhelm firstname.lastname@example.org at the URA to see how your small business can get the resources it needs during this crisis. You can also find additional resources for businesses and residents from the federal government, philanthropic organizations, and the business community here.
At the federal level, the U.S. Small Business Administration (USBA) is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses and nonprofits hurting due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Within four to five weeks of applying, you could receive $25,000 for Physical Damage and another $25,000 for Economic Injury to replenish your organization’s working capital. You can use these loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that are piling up due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The interest rate on these loans is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. For questions on program details, eligibility requirements, and the application process, please click here, contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955, or e-mail email@example.com.
Finally, the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence has compiled a valuable list of resources for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. You can check out this list of links and information on policies, programs and opportunities available to small businesses to help propel economic recovery here.
As we all practice social distancing and adhere to guidelines that will help protect ourselves and our loved ones, please take a few minutes to respond to the U.S. Census. Every 10 years, the United States conducts a census of the entire population. It has never been easier to get counted on your own, whether online, over the phone, or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker. It is extremely important that everyone gets counted. The census is used to determine congressional representation and allocate millions of dollars in federal funding in southwest Pennsylvania to support schools, hospitals, infrastructure developments and other community-based services. The City of Pittsburgh, foundations, businesses, and public schools rely on census information to make important decisions about local policies, funding distribution, where to start businesses, and more. The participation of every resident in the census will help make sure that we receive the federal funds that we need to serve everyone equitably. When you complete the census, you’re helping the Northside receive the resources it needs to thrive. Get counted today at https://2020census.gov/.
We want to reassure our constituents in the Northside that our District 1 and District 6 Council Offices are open during this COVID-19 outbreak. Though our staff is working remotely to ensure that we are meeting social distancing requirements, we are working hard to make sure constituents get all the answers and assistance they need. Likewise, major City of Pittsburgh services are fully operational and we can help connect you with those services. If you have any questions, please contact Councilman Wilson’s office at (412) 255-2135 or Councilman Lavelle’s office at (412) 255-2134. You can follow and contact Councilman Wilson’s office on Facebook and Twitter, and Councilman Lavelle’s office on Facebook and Twitter. If you need urgent help, please email Councilman Wilson’s Chief of Staff, Sally Stadelman, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Councilman Lavelle’s Chief of Staff, Daniel Wood, at email@example.com. We are ready to help you in any way possible.
This is a challenging and unprecedented moment in our tenure as City Councilmen. We are focused on making sure that all Northsiders have the latest and best information about the spread of COVID-19 and the measures that the federal, state, and city governments are taking to contain it. Our work is made significantly easier by our faith in the extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness of the residents and communities of the Northside. We will all get through this together. Until then, please stay home, be kind to your neighbors, and take care of your loved ones.
Bobby Wilson – Councilman, District 1
R. Daniel Lavelle – Councilman, District 6
*Editor’s note: The April 2020 print edition of this column referred to three measures instead of two. We regret the error.