WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Accountable.US, a nonpartisan watchdog group that exposes corruption across all levels of government, held a press call with Marie Johns, former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Obama, and Ashley Harrington, the Federal Advocacy Director and a Senior Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) to discuss how the expiring Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has failed small businesses across the country, particularly in communities of color, and how to re-design the program to help those who need relief the most.
The PPP is set to expire today, and as we have seen over the last three months, hundreds of thousands of small businesses have turned off their lights, potentially never to reopen, all while wealthy and well-connected companies got loans quickly. A disproportionate number of those shuttering businesses are owned by people of color in underserved communities.
Below are key quotes from the call:
- “We at Accountable.US have been repeatedly calling for increased transparency into the program, which would help the public know which businesses benefited, how much they received, how those businesses fared, and how the government can make taxpayer dollars go farther. Right now we only have scant and anecdotal information that the Trump administration has chosen to selectively release” — Kyle Herrig, Founder and President of Accountable.US.
- “A new program must ensure adequate oversight and transparency over the loan disbursements, as well as intentional help directed toward those who have been left behind thus far — communities of color, working families, mom-and-pop shops, and others who don’t have connections to big banks” — Kyle Herrig, Founder and President of Accountable.US.
- “Both anecdotal evidence and hard data show us that this administration has utterly failed communities of color throughout the pandemic. While publicly traded companies and other mid- to large-sized businesses were able to cut in line and access money, small businesses owned by African Americans, Latinx, women and other minority groups have been shut out,” — Marie Johns, former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Obama.
- “Failing to take care of these communities is an abdication of leadership. The next iteration of the Paycheck Protection Program must prioritize helping communities most in need” — Marie Johns, former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Obama.
- “The PPP is one of the largest taxpayer-funded, crisis relief programs that our country’s ever had. Its intention is good and was built around an important premise—providing a lifeboat for small business owners so that they and their employees can stay afloat during this pandemic. But the structure, execution and rollout of the PPP fell short, creating barriers for small business owners of color to access relief” — Ashley Harrington, the Federal Advocacy Director and a Senior Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).
- “It’s already too late for many small businesses and those that remain can’t wait any longer. The PPP is set to expire tomorrow—the aftermath of this economic crisis will be severe, and if more isn’t done, then many of these small mom and pop shops will never recover. While the PPP must be improved to ensure that at least some relief reaches business owners of color, we must also move towards targeted solutions that are not reliant on credit and financial institutions as intermediaries, such as providing direct grant funding” — Ashley Harrington, the Federal Advocacy Director and a Senior Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).