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WASHINGTON, D.C. May 6, 2020– U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) on Wednesday announced the Saving Our Street (SOS) Act, legislation that provides federal support to micro-businesses throughout America during the COVID-19 crisis. The SOS Act will lift up local economies and allow for neighborhood businesses to stay open during this crisis.  

“Neighborhood businesses across the country are hurting and Congress has failed to get help to those that need it most. The Saving Our Street Act helps small, local businesses keep their lights on and their workers on the job. I’m proud to partner with Congresswoman Pressley on this important bill,” said Harris.

“Our smallest neighborhood businesses are the backbones of our communities, but so far too many have been left out and left behind by federal relief efforts. Without deliberate action, this will widen the racial and gender wealth gap. As we work to mitigate the hurt caused by COVID-19, we must be intentional in directing aid to these small businesses that employ our neighbors, provide critical goods and services, and generate trillions of dollars in economic activity annually. I’m grateful to Senator Harris for her partnership on this breakthrough legislation. Our microbusiness’s ability to keep the lights on directly impacts issues like community wide food security and the basic needs of families trying to pull through this crisis,” said Pressley. 

The SOS Act is endorsed by Professor Darrick Hamilton, Economist and Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, Maya Wiley, Co-Founder of Flatbush Thrives and Former MWBE Director for the City of New York, Justin Hendrix, Co-Founder of Flatbush Thrives, Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, Americans for Financial Reform, The National Urban League, National Action Network (NAN), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), California Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Responsible Lending, National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), National Fair Housing Alliance, The Daniel Initiative, The Black Upstart, Amplify Latinx, Asheville Grown, Woodstock Institute, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA), Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Fund, Colorado Lending Source, National Council of Jewish Women, CommonWealth Kitchen, and PFLAG, AILA New England, Lawyers for Civil Rights, Project Citizenship, Oxfam America, Compass Working Capital, U.S. Haitian Chamber of Commerce, California Black Chamber of Commerce, Asian Business Association San Diego, Jamaica Plain New Development Corp (JPNDC), The Latino Equity Advocacy & Policy Institute, LeadersUp, Mission Asset Fund, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Orange County Black Chamber and CalAsian Chamber of Commerce.

The SOS Act:

  • Establishes a Microbusiness Assistance Fund of $124.5 billion to provide up to $250,000 directly to small “micro” businesses
    • Targeted to “micro” businesses with fewer than 10 employees
    • Businesses with at least half of their employees from the community and within a low-income community may have up to 20 employees
  • Will help neighborhood businesses put people back to work
    • Can be used for essentials like payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, and personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Employers must maintain prior levels of health benefits for employees
    • Essential businesses may use funding to provide hazard pay for employees
  • Reserved for those who truly need help
    •  Businesses earning more than $1 million in revenue are prohibited from receiving grants
      • Nonprofits with less than $500,000 in gross receipts and fewer than 10 employees
      • Excludes publicly traded and hedge fund-owned businesses
      • Recipient businesses must provide financial statements to demonstrate true need
      • Funds cannot be used to pay salaries over $100,000
  • 75% of the funding goes to historically underrepresented businesses, including minority-owned businesses
    • $300 million to nonprofit and community organizations assisting small business owners
    • $50 million for minority business centers to provide technical assistance and online training
    • $50 million for centers supporting small and women owned businesses 
  • Requires a report detailing the ethnicity, race, industry, geographical demographics, and sex of applicants for grants

Bill text can be found here.

A one-pager of the bill can be found here.