Some Black-Owned Businesses Are Turning To New Banks For Paycheck Protection Loans


To help keep workers on payrolls. Businesses owned by black and Latino people were often at the back of the line. Those firms often had to wait longer for money, even though many were desperate for financial help. With a new round of business loans in the pipeline. Authorities are now trying to address that disparity as NPR's Scott Horsley reports like a lot of business sellers. Jennifer Kelly's income took a hit last year when the pandemic struck. She's a clinical psychologist near Atlanta, and some of her clients didn't make the adjustment to online or telephone counseling. Kelly, who has two employees applied to her regular bank for a loan under the federal government's Paycheck protection program. But she says the process was frustrating. It's kind of like trying to get the vaccine. They put my name on the list. And there they finally said, Oh, we all have anymore, And we're sorry that first round of P P p loans was exhausted In less than two weeks. Lots of businesses complained that banks were prioritizing their biggest customers. Bones were especially hard to come by in neighborhoods with a lot of black and brown residents When I needed them. They were not available to man, including. I'm not the big business, but I'm a small business and committed like with the fabric of America. When Congress okayed a second round of P P p loans last year, Kelly applied again. This time through a bank 250 miles away in Savannah, Georgia that specializes in working with black own firms. They were very patient through that entire process, and I didn't get approved for the loan, and I do hope that, especially in the small black banks will survive because We need to have those institutions that second bank Kelly worked with. Carver State Bank was founded 94 years ago with the goal of building financial freedom for its African American customers. 80% of its loans go to black owned businesses. Robert James, who sits on the bank's board, says he received P P p applications from around the country most looking for less than $50,000. Most of our applications are very small businesses individually owned gas station in the neighborhood or restaurants are people deserve a lot of credit for the hard work that they're putting in just to make sure that we get help to the customers that need it. The most According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Even before the pandemic, black owned businesses were more than twice as likely beyond shaky financial footing as white owned firms. CEO Janine Jake Oak of the Community Development Bankers Association, says that means the extra time it took for loans to reach those businesses could be costly. They had a lot less cushion to start with, which made them much more vulnerable when the economy went south. Authorities have tried to address the disparity in P P p lending in a number of ways. First they've made more money available. They also gave banks that specialize in minority and low income communities, a head start when the latest round of paycheck protection loans was launched last month. Finally, while the loans were designed to be forgiven, some black borrowers are suspicious, a legacy of the long history of discriminatory lending. So education is also important. Carver States, James says he tried to reassure African American borrowers they can use P p p loans to keep their businesses and communities afloat. I've heard a lot of stories of customers who were eligible for these funds, but didn't trust that there wouldn't be some sort of a catch. Craig Gordon runs a company that provides in home nursing care in Georgia about 30% of his business is on hold right now because many of his customers are wary of letting anyone even a skilled nurse into their home during the pandemic. With Carver States help Gordon's just been approved for a second p p. P loan. This will buy us probably three of four months, and I'm hoping that all of those vulnerable folks that we served by again will be well vaccinated. In the meantime, cordon says the forgivable loan will help him keep dozens of people on the payroll. Scott Horsley. NPR NEWS Washington

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