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Mendelson, DeWitt Caught Up in Budget Battle

WASHINGTON INFORMER — The chairman of the D.C. Council and the District’s financial chief are at odds over the recently passed city budget.

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By James Wright

The chairman of the D.C. Council and the District’s financial chief are at odds over the recently passed city budget.

On May 28, the council passed on second and final reading the $15.6 billion fiscal 2020 budget that included a provision that diverts money from repaying city debts for the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to funding public housing repairs and eliminating a need for a hotel tax favored by Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) led the effort to divert the money despite the strong public protest of Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt.

As a result, DeWitt told council members on June 10 the budget won’t be certified with the provision in it. Under District law, DeWitt must certify the budget before it moves to Bowser and the U.S. Congress for approval and review, respectively.

A Mendelson spokeswoman said her boss, DeWitt and the District’s budget office are engaged in talks that aim to resolve the matter. The council has been briefed and kept informed on developments.

“Hopefully, this can be resolved by [June 18],” she said.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer

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Bay Area

Dream Fund: Entrepreneurs Can Apply for $10,000 Grants Through $35M State Program

Although a number of reports suggest that the outlook has begun to be more positive as the U.S. economy continues to bounce back defying the odds, and many Black businessowners have also become more optimistic, access to credit and technical support remain a challenge for many who had to dip into their own finances to keep their lights on.

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Everett Sands, CEO Lendistry. Lendistry photo. 
Everett Sands, CEO Lendistry. Lendistry photo. 

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

Since 2017, there has been a 9.8% increase of new small businesses — firms with less than 500 employees — in the United States. Over the past two years alone, over 10 million applications were submitted to start new small businesses across the country, according to the Small Business Administration.

That growth trend is true for California, too, where there are about 4.1 million small businesses, the most in the country. Those companies make up 99.8% of all business in California and employ about 7.2 million people.

But for Black-owned and other minority owned small businesses across the country, there was a steep decline in numbers, almost 41%, due to the pandemic, a Census Population Survey found in 2020. During that same time, nearly 44% of minority-owned small businesses were at risk of shutting down, a Small Business Majority report found.

Although a number of reports suggest that the outlook has begun to be more positive as the U.S. economy continues to bounce back defying the odds, and many Black businessowners have also become more optimistic, access to credit and technical support remain a challenge for many who had to dip into their own finances to keep their lights on.

Recognizing the outsized contribution small businesses make to the health of the California economy and the hit many of the smallest of small business have taken during the pandemic, the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) has been making grants of up to $25,000 to small business in the state.

In its latest round of funding called the Dream Fund, which is now accepting applications on a rolling basis, CalOSBA has partnered with Lendistry, a Los Angeles-based, minority-led small business and commercial real estate lender to administer the $35 million grant portion of its program. The fund provides $10,000 to each small business that qualifies.

To become eligible, California-based small business owners will have to complete training at one of the centers run by the state’s Technical Assistance Expansion Program (TAEP) and receive a certificate.

“For the millions of Californians that have dreams of owning their own business, this grant coupled with one-on-one counseling and business expertise from hundreds of counselors at our eighty-seven Technical Assistance Centers, has the power to jumpstart their dreams,” says Tara Lynn Gray, director of CalOSBA.

Jay King, president and CEO of the Sacramento-based California Black Chamber of Commerce, says he applauds Gov. Gavin Newsom for understanding the historic systemic challenges minority businesses face and for “doing something about it.”

But giving Black businesses grants are not a “cure-all,” he says.

“It is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound if we don’t do more to really fix the problems small businesses face,” King explains. “Ninety-six percent of Black businesses are mini- or micro- that means they make less than $100,000 or less than $35,000 a year, respectively,” King continued. “Only 4% of our businesses earn more than $100,000 annually. We have to put more resources and technical support around these businesses.”

King says informing Black business owners about opportunities like the Dream Fund and making sure they know how to apply for or access the funding is critical to making sure the people who need the help gets it.

“You have to get down into our communities,” he said. “You have to reach people through groups that are plugged into our communities to get the word out. We do not hear about these kinds of programs enough. We definitely don’t benefit from them enough.”

Everett K. Sands, the CEO of Lendistry, says he is excited to help California’s new businesses access the capital they need to “begin on their journeys.

“Over the past two years, almost 10 million new businesses have been created in the U.S.,” he says. “With record numbers of new small businesses entering the marketplace, many of which are owned by women and minorities, programs like California Dream Fund pave the way for a more robust and equitable economy as these new businesses make the leap from employing just their founders to employing their communities.”

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Bay Area

Mayor London Breed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi Celebrate Grand Opening of 100% Affordable Housing in Mission

“As a proud representative for San Francisco, it was my privilege to join Mayor London Breed in celebrating Casa Adelante’s grand opening,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “This development will be a vital anchor for The Mission’s Latino community, providing families with the homes they need to survive and the services they need to thrive. It was an honor to help secure $2 million in federal funds for the community-serving nonprofits in Casa Adelante, and House Democrats will continue fighting to expand affordable housing as we Build a Better America.”

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Twitter.com photo.

2828 16th Street provides 143 affordable homes for low-income families, including 36 homes for public housing residents

Mayor London N. Breed joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and community leaders on May 5 to celebrate the grand opening of Casa Adelante — 2828 16th St., a 143-unit, 100% affordable housing development in the Mission District.

Formerly known as 1990 Folsom, the development designates 36 units for public housing residents relocating from Potrero Hill and Sunnydale HOPE SF sites. The remaining 107 units are designated for low-income households making between 40% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Additionally, 2828 16th St. offers 30 units with accessibility features for people with impaired mobility and three units with features for people with impaired vision and/or hearing.

“These 143 units come at a time when addressing housing affordability for all San Franciscans is crucial,” said Breed. “2828 16th Street allows families to stay rooted in their community while providing critical on-site services that will help them thrive in the neighborhood they call home. This project is a perfect example of how we are working to make San Francisco a more affordable place to live for everyone.”

“As a proud representative for San Francisco, it was my privilege to join Mayor London Breed in celebrating Casa Adelante’s grand opening,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “This development will be a vital anchor for The Mission’s Latino community, providing families with the homes they need to survive and the services they need to thrive. It was an honor to help secure $2 million in federal funds for the community-serving nonprofits in Casa Adelante, and House Democrats will continue fighting to expand affordable housing as we Build a Better America.”

The building on 2828 16th Street transformed a vacant and underutilized property into a mixed-use development with space for the arts, nonprofits, early child care, and education. In addition to the 143 units, the development features an inner courtyard, rooftop urban farm, two community rooms, and bicycle parking.

The property also includes an affordable childcare center operated by the Felton Institute, ground-floor space for Mission-based nonprofits Galería de la Raza and HOMEY to provide community empowerment and cultural enrichment programming, and on-site social work and property management services provided by Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC).

“I am incredibly proud of the work that TNDC and MEDA have done, in collaboration with funders and our City partners, to bring 143 affordable new homes for families in District 9 at Casa Adelante — 2828 16th Street,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “This 100% affordable housing development, that will be home to more than 300 community members and includes on-site childcare and a rooftop urban farm for free produce, is exactly what is needed to keep our working families and residents home in San Francisco.”

“In celebrating the opening of Casa Adelante — 2828 16th Street, we celebrate the opportunity for families, children, and individuals to build stability and vibrant futures in San Francisco,” said Maurilio León, CEO of TNDC. “This building is a testament to innovation in affordable housing. With on-site services like a rooftop farm providing access to free produce and options for affordable childcare, TNDC and our many partners are actualizing a strong community for current and future generations.”

“Casa Adelante — 2828 16th Street symbolizes how we have upended the narrative in the Mission, as we continue to turn the tide of displacement of residents and arts and cultural institutions in our community,” said Luis Granados, CEO of Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). “MEDA is honored that in conjunction with the Mission community, co-developer TNDC, numerous funders, and valued City partners, 143 households and three esteemed organizations all now have a place to call their permanent home.”

Completed in November 2021, the eight-story, 155,000-square-foot building and associated landscaping were designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMSA) and GLS Landscape to address the community’s need for family-centered homes, affordable arts space, and cultural preservation. 2828 16th Street received a LEED Gold Certification in recognition of its achievement and leadership in sustainable design and construction.

2828 16th Street represents a joint venture partnership between Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) and Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). The development team leveraged low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, a mortgage, and federal Project-Based Vouchers.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development invested more than $46 million into the project through the 2015 General Obligation Bond. Bank of America, Barings Multifamily Capital/MassMutual, and Century Housing Corporation provided additional financing. Local firms LMSA, GLS Landscape, Nibbi Brothers General Contractors and Gubb & Barshay were enlisted on the project.

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Bay Area

California Gas Prices to Spike Even More with July 1 Tax Increase

Democratic lawmakers, backed by environmentalists, are digging their heels in, defending their decision not to suspend the inflationary tax increase that they fought hard to approve when they voted to pass Senate Bill 1 in 2017. “As we’ve said before, suspending the gas tax would reduce critical funds available for road repair and improvement projects,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood said in a joint statement.

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As of Friday, the average gas price per gallon was $5.82 in the state.
As of Friday, the average gas price per gallon was $5.82 in the state.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

“I really don’t understand how the price of gas can rise so drastically in California,” said a Black woman and 55-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident who agreed to be interviewed for this article but asked to not be identified.

“Unfortunately, we need to purchase it regardless of the prices and that’s one of reasons, I believe, it continues to increase,” she complained. “Weekly, it is costing me approximately $75 to commute to and from work, which is $35 more than I used to pay.”

The woman, who is a collections officer with a lead abatement company, said filling her tank often means she has to forgo another obligation.

As of Friday, the average gas price per gallon was $5.82 in the state.

Now, news that the state is tacking an extra 3-cent tax on every gallon purchased — which will not be a significant increase — is still absurd, says the woman, considering that California already has the highest gas prices in the nation.

Because Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature missed the May 1 deadline to suspend an inflationary gas tax increase that is scheduled for July 1, it will still take effect.

Policymakers would have had to act 60 days in advance to avert the increase.

Democratic lawmakers, backed by environmentalists, are digging their heels in, defending their decision not to suspend the inflationary tax increase that they fought hard to approve when they voted to pass Senate Bill 1 in 2017.

“As we’ve said before, suspending the gas tax would reduce critical funds available for road repair and improvement projects,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood said in a joint statement.

“Additionally, as oil companies continue to rake in record-high profits, there is no guarantee this relief would be passed onto consumers,” Atkins and Rendon continued.

With the tax hike, the average excise tax price per gallon in the state will go from about 51 cents per gallon to 54 cents per gallon.

Last month, with the May 1 deadline looming, Newsom’s office acknowledged that it would not be able to convince lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly to suspend the tax increase.

Instead, Newsom’s spokesperson Alex Stack released a statement suggesting that the Governor’s office was turning its attention to providing relief to Californians as the cost of gas, food and other commodities continue to skyrocket.

“We look forward to working with lawmakers on the governor’s proposal for direct payments to Californians wrestling with rising prices,” Stack said in a statement. “Helping offset the impact of inflation on California residents remains a top priority for the governor.”

Legislative Republicans blasted their Democratic colleagues for their “inaction” on the gas tax increase.

“Californians are desperate for any relief at the pump while paying the highest gas prices in the nation, but Democrats have decided to run out the clock and increase the state’s gas tax instead,” read a statement the state Republican Party released earlier this month.

Gov. Newsom and lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature have still not agreed on how to address the excessive cost of gas in the state.

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