Next City: It’s Been a Rough Year for Small Businesses, But Not as Rough as Feared

Next City, March 16, 2021, It’s Been a Rough Year for Small Businesses, But Not as Rough as Feared

Jessie Lee is managing director at Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, the small business lending arm of Asian Americans for Equality, a nonprofit founded in 1974 that serves 20,000 New Yorkers a year, speaking English, Korean, Spanish and multiple Chinese dialects.

Renaissance Economic Development Corporation has made more than $50 million in loans to 1,200 small businesses across New York City since inception in 1997. Lee and her team currently have a portfolio of roughly 460 businesses with $9.4 million in active loans, up from 320 businesses with $7.8 million about a year ago when the pandemic first took hold.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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