Report: How Rising Rents Hurt Immigrant Small Businesses

The site of shuttered storefronts has caused concerns all over the city, as commercial rents reportedly rise. (Photo via City Limits)

A survey of immigrant small business owners released this week by the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a coalition of groups advocating for affordable housing, “found that 77 percent of owners believe they are overburdened by their rent,” reports City Limits’ Jarrett Murphy.

Of the 90 surveyed business owners, based on the Lower East Side and Chinatown, in Jackson Heights and in Kingsbridge, 47 percent said they had to increase their prices to pay for the high rent and 28 percent said they had to lay off some of their employees. Forty percent reported cases of harassment.

At a panel discussion about the ANHD report on Wednesday, a representative of the city’s Department of Small Business Services said SBS had engaged more than 250 business owners in its Commercial Lease Assistance Program, and pointed to the 2016 Commercial Tenant Harassment Law as a tool against undue pressure.

But Lena Afridi, ANHD’s director of economic development policy, said the city’s existing efforts fall short. “There’s still a lot more that needs to be done,” she said, noting that while the 2016 law was a positive step, “there’s no enforcement component to it.” The law empowers business owners to take landlords to court, but the onus is on them. (The fact that SBS has never been an enforcement agency might be an obstacle to addressing that shortcoming in the ’16 law.)

What measures would help small businesses, according to ANHD? Go to City Limits to find out, and read about one bill “bandied about in the City Council since the Koch administration” that could help owners.

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