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What to Know About the Latest Round of Local and Federal Assistance for Restaurants and Bars

This second round of help goes to restaurants, bars, clubs, street vendors, and venues, as well as their employees

The popular commercial center of Playa Del Rey at Culver Blvd and Vista Del Mar has restaurants open for outside dinning as this area and Malibu have avoided the COVID winter surge.

Over the last two months, Los Angeles, state of California, and federal government announced new rounds of assistance directed for owners and employees of restaurants, bars, venues, street vendors, and clubs. Financial aid could make a difference for restaurants in the form of fee waivers, grants, and additional loans. For workers, that help comes as rent relief, grants, and other financial aid.

Its good news for Los Angeles food businesses, especially now that President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law on March 11. It's a massive $1.9 trillion aid package with new COVID relief funds that includes a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund with grants for eligible food businesses to help offset revenue losses from COVID-19.

This is not a comprehensive rundown, but a general summary of aid for the hospitality industry or LA residents in 2021.

Citywide Assistance

On March 2, LA City Council approved a second round of rent relief for those impacted by COVID-19. $259 million is earmarked for direct rental assistance and $3 million for eviction defense.

On March 30, LA will begin accepting applications for rental assistance. This second round will focus on paying off past rent, with a maximum grant of $10,000. To determine which program to apply for, click here.

In early March, mayor Eric Garcetti announced landlord assistance for tenants that will go directly to landlords and pay off tenant debt. To sign up for notifications for this program and to check eligibility, sign up at hcidla.lacity.org.

In an interview with ABC-7, Garcetti talked about the program: “The good news about this is that it will not be about a single month’s rent. Those tenants who haven’t been able to make their rent for a number of months, could have a number of months paid off, allowing you to pay your mortgages, helping everybody own their housing and stay in their housing together.”

Statewide Assistance

Weeks before President Biden signed the second round of federal aid into law, Gov. Gavin Newsom worked with state legislators to pass a $2.1 billion package where small businesses impacted by the pandemic could apply for grants up to $25,000.

Liquor-permit fees from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control have been suspended for two years, which can save bars, venues, restaurants, and clubs up to $1,235 annually. Check ABC for details.

California residents who did not qualify for direct relief payments from the federal government are eligible for a one-time payment of $600, which is directed to undocumented workers who are ineligible for unemployment. Households with an annual income under $75,000 will also receive a $600 check.

For agricultural workers, the state aid package provides an additional $24 million for services through Housing for the Harvest, a program that offers services and housing to agricultural workers who must quarantine due to COVID-19 while they self-isolate.

Federal Aid

Many Americans have already received the $1,400 per person stimulus payment. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also temporarily boosts the child tax credit to up to $3,600 per dependent, and will be paid in advance installments. This provision lasts until the end of 2021.

The bill also makes healthcare more affordable for those who lost their jobs job during the pandemic.

Food delivery drivers are also eligible for aid. Uber Eats, Postmates, and DoorDash drivers typically are not eligible for unemployment, but will have these benefits extended through summer 2021.

Through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), grants are available for restaurants, pop-ups, food trucks, street food vendors, bars, clubs, lounges, tasting rooms, taprooms, caterers, and even distilleries. This money can be used towards pay back rent, mortgages, or past due bills related to restaurant operations.

Those grants, which are administered by the Small Business Administration, will award grants equitably, but on a first come, first served basis. Grants are completely different from 2020’s Paycheck Protection Program, which converted to loans if not spent on payroll. Publicly traded companies or restaurants with more than 20 locations cannot allowed to apply.

The federal government will determine grant amounts by this formula: subtract a business’s 2020 pandemic-era receipts from 2019 gross receipts. Below are some details about the program:

  • Until April 1, restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, and street vending businesses owned by women, veterans, or economically and socially disadvantaged groups will get priority.
  • Any restaurant group grant will be capped at $10 million, while individual venues have a $5 million grant cap.
  • If the business received a PPP loan in 2020, that loan amount will be subtracted from the potential grant amount. All grant funds must be spent by the end of 2021.

Live Music and Performance Venues

This week, the Small Business Administration published an information page and portal for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. The money can be used for payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities, and other expenses. This will be a lifeline for live venue operators, like West Hollywood’s Troubador, which have been closed for over a year.

Venues that were in operation before February 29, 2020 are eligible, and some venues can secure a grant equal to 45 percent of their 2019 gross earned revenue or $10 million, whichever is less. This federal grant program will start accepting applications on April 8. There’s additional information on the SVOG website.

Paycheck Protection Loans

SBA is also still offering PPP loans until March 31, 2021. In February, the Biden administration announced reforms to make access to PPP loans more equitable to small businesses. Not only did the administration increase funding for small businesses, but also made it possible for non-citizens to apply for PPP loans by using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). This move can directly help undocumented individuals, including street food vendors.

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