The California “Housing Is Key” program was established to help both tenants and landlords fiscally recover from The Pandemic. The main idea: to keep tenants and landlords able to keep a roof over their heads, and those of others. But amid various reports of Californians not getting the money they need to do just that, comes this disturbing story of an Oakland landlord who needs help simply because the $70,000 she was promised, but did not get, “Housing Is Key” program staff says she was sent – she can show that was not the case.
For the purposes of this post, the name of the Oakland landlord will be withheld for now. But what happened was simple: she applied for California “Housing Is Key” program aide, and then waited for that money to come, and then waited for six months to this point in time.
When she inquired as to what happened to her application and the expected $70,000, she was told that she “already got your money.” But she sent the organization a bank statement (I have seen it) proving that there was no direct deposit, only many entries where she shifted money from savings to pay bills. “Now,” she says, “I’m broke.” And while her business has reopened after a remodeling to meet the request of code enforcers (who, themselves dragged their feet on evaluating her establishment), she’s left with dollars to her name, and still more debt from money she borrowed to fill the gap left by the Pandemic-caused drop in tenant rent payments.
So, to say the $70,000 was much needed is an understatement. She’s still trying to get the California “Housing Is Key” program staffers to actually find out where they sent what was supposed to be her money, to. But someone in the State of California Governor’s Office should step in and light a giant fire under the managers of the “Housing Is Key” program. As I understand it from speaking with the Oakland landlord (who is a friend of mine), she’s not the only landlord who’s facing this problem. Something is happening to money they should have received, and hopefully it’s not the result of some scheme or fraudulent action in the “Housing Is Key” program.
Which brings me to this thought: it seems there are many examples of people not getting money they applied for from government-established Pandemic-relief programs like the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Payroll Protection Loan Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. But rather than address those complaints, the federal government seems bent on pointing the finger at the applicant, coming up with accusations of fraud that don’t pass the smell test.
For example, I am part of a nationwide group of Americans who have received Payroll Protection Loan Program assistance from Bank of America, were told the PPP Loan would be forgiven if they used it to pay their employees and contractors, did that, but then watched as they changed the rules after they received their aide. Then, Bank of America told them they had to pay the majority of the loan back. Meanwhile, the SBA failed to step in and stop the problem. This has formed the climate for a class-action lawsuit in the planning stages. We have been meeting with representatives of several lawfirms.
What’s more bothersome is the Biden Administration just took the programs formed by the Trump Administration, specifically the PPP Loan Program, and did nothing in the way from making a new program that did not repeat its mistakes. Rather, the SBA under the Biden Administration was content to run the Trump-formed program! What was needed was not a loan program, but a grant program. Something in the range of $10,000 per grant that could be given to small businesses who already received the PPP Loan but were facing scenarios where most of the loan was not forgiven. The Biden Administration should just forgive those loans, and focus on making sure small businesses are financially whole again. They way the Biden Administration has done this has added up to a giant mistake. Fraud is not the problem.
The problem is many SBA workers do not know how to evaluate businesses, especially e-commerce firms. So, a business that owns two or more URLs representing the name of the business is considered a fraud by an SBA worker when that is common. I know because it happened to me, and I was informed of how stupid the reason was by a lawyer with the SBA. But I think the SBA under the Biden Administration uses the fraud claim as a reason not to push out money to business. Meanwhile the EIDL program runs out of money, and Congress does nothing about it.
In closing, American Government must stop its tendency to be allergic to getting money to people when its needed.