March 27, 2020
A new Rent and Mortgage Assistance Program is being offered to help downtown Howell businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.
Howell Main Street Inc., DDA, Lake Trust Credit Union and the law firm Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney have joined forces to create the Small Business Rent and Mortgage Assistance Program. The program is specific to help businesses in the Howell Downtown Development Authority (DDA) district cover their rent or mortgage payments. Grants are available up to $2,000 in total and do not have to be repaid in the future. Howell Main Street Inc. COO Kate Litwin says anytime a small business has to unexpectedly close or drastically reduce operations; losses are immediate and lasting. She says covering a rent or mortgage payment can ease a small business owner’s stress and help stretch their budget a bit more – adding that they are grateful to their community partners for their willingness to work together to help small businesses through these uncertain times.
Litwin tells WHMI they wanted to make the program as easy as possible for businesses that have been affected. She says the grants are meant to help businesses offset rent or mortgage costs, but also hopefully be able to use those funds for payroll or other necessities they need to cover. Litwin says they are trying to speed up the process and it is a very simple online application. She noted that there are so many businesses in the downtown district that are really struggling right now that they hope to help as much as possible with their availability of funding. Litwin says everyone is hurting and the most recent shutdown affected most businesses in their district. She says some might have a little more in reserve while others worry about how to make the next rent payment. Litwin says it was impossible for anyone to prepare for a crisis of this magnitude, so business owners are struggling and nervous and are looking at every opportunity for assistance. She says fortunately there is funding from the state and federal government and some other sources, but all of that funding will also be limited. Litwin said that was really their impetus behind the new program – how can they do something quickly, cut out some of the bureaucracy, provide the right level of support and have the most impact.
Applications are now being accepted online and will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to businesses forced to close due to executive order or other government restrictions. Litwin says funding is limited, so they recommend everyone apply as soon as possible and they anticipate it will go quickly depending on the number of businesses in need. Although funding is limited for this cycle, officials are working to secure funding for another cycle. It is expected that the funds will be spent quickly, so Litwin says they will seek other sources of additional funding to maintain the program and provide assistance. Litwin says if anyone in the community wants to get involved, has a business or corporation, or wants to make an individual donation, they can contact her at the DDA office. She says they will be happy to discuss how everyone can partner together to provide this assistance and maintain funding.
Howell Main Street and the DDA will continue to provide businesses with up-to-date information on all other relief options provided at the state and federal levels so they can take advantage of the programs as they become available. Lake Trust Credit Union also offers a variety of business assistance programs. Business owners are encouraged to call 888-267-7200 to discuss options. More information about the program is available through the link provided.