The City of Seattle is moving forward on some key initiatives including a ban on commercial evictions to support restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, nonprofits, and arts organizations paralyzed by the social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Wednesday, Mayor Jenny Durkan is expected to sign an emergency order “prohibiting the eviction of small businesses and non-profits during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” Seattle City Council Insight reports. Among its restrictions, the order will prohibit “the eviction of a small business or nonprofit tenant for non-payment of rent or because an existing lease terminated during the civil emergency period.” A small business will be defined as a business with 50 of fewer employees “per establishment or premises.”
The move follows a similar ban on residential evictions in the city.
Tuesday, Durkan announced a $1.1 Million Arts Recovery Package to “support creative workers and arts and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19.”
The Mayor’s Arts Recovery Package is composed of two key initiatives:
- $100,000 in immediate relief for artists and creative workers through two private artist relief funds; and
- $1 million Arts Stabilization Fund to invest in arts and cultural organizations to help mitigate revenue losses due to the moratorium on events and public gatherings.
The most immediate help will come through a $100,000 emergency grant from the city to two existing programs: $50,000 to the Seattle Artist Relief Fund, founded by Seattle author Ijeoma Oluo, which will bring the total current funding to $187,150 and another $50,000 in Artist Trust’s COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund.
The city will also invest $1 million in arts and cultural organizations through the new Arts Stabilization Fund focused on “arts and cultural organizations that have been impacted by the moratorium on events and public gatherings.”
CHS reported here on the impact of increased social distancing requirements that have forced the closure of most businesses where people might gather like restaurants and bars while also bringing the curtain down on theaters and performance spaces. Many of the businesses and groups are rising to the challenge, reopening as takeout only or moving performances and events online.
There are also privately funded efforts. A COVID-19 Response Fund has been started with help from Amazon and Microsoft to “help people disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus outbreak’s disruption of the economy” including “people who lack access to health insurance or sick leave, residents with limited English proficiency, communities of color, and health care and gig economy workers.”
Previously, CHS reported on what neighborhood small businesses were doing to prepare and efforts including a federal COVID-19 emergency program set to come online that will make some $7 billion in low interest loans available to business hit by the virus’s impact.
The city is also making $1.5 million in grants available to small business being hit by the outbreak. “Eligible small businesses will receive a grant of up to $10,000 to mitigate revenue lost by COVID-19,” the City Hall announcement read —
Eligible small businesses can apply by filling out a simple one-page form on OED’s website, and the City’s Small Business Liaisons will conduct targeted outreach and technical assistance to ensure historically underserved communities like immigrants and refugees, communities of color, and business owners who speak a language other than English apply. Once an eligible business owner applies, OED will send financial assistance within one week. Applications and grants for the Fund will continue on a rolling basis.
Efforts to measure the financial impact are also coming. The City of Seattle, Greater Seattle Partners, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce have rolled out a new survey “to further capture the effects of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, on businesses and non-profits in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.”
For businesses and non-profits interested in completing the survey, go to, www.greater-seattle.com/
Initial quantitative data and qualitative information shows that small businesses, non-profit organizations, arts, and workers in the Seattle region are experiencing significant negative financial impacts due to the COVID-19. Local businesses and non-profits have reported 50 – 90 percent revenue losses, laid off employees, reduced hours, temporary or permanent closures, xenophobia, and major declines in foot traffic as tens of thousands of people are being asked to work from home and practice social distancing. Industries that are most impacted include retail, restaurants and hospitality, transportation and logistics, as well as arts, large festivals and cultural events.
- 3/31/20: Heritage Distilling’s Capitol Hill tasting room supplying craft sanitizer on tap
- 3/31/20: To blunt COVID-19 crisis, Seattle leaders make call to cancel rent, house payments
- 3/31/20: Study shows King County social distancing restrictions appear to be working
- 3/30/20: Washington State Department of Health: You don’t need to disinfect your groceries
- 3/29/20: New views of Seattle’s COVID-19 crisis: a forecast for ‘peak’ outbreak and a count of confirmed cases around Capitol Hill and the Central District
- Plus: Capitol Hill Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes offering takeout during COVID-19 ‘stay home’ restrictions
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