SAN JOSE, Calif. - A new COVID relief fund targeted for small businesses in East San Jose is now taking applications. The eastside is considered the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Santa Clara County.
Thu Pham jhas owned A Plus Cleaners in East San Jose for six years. Business was great before the pandemic. With most people now working from home, her business is hanging by a thread.
"From last March until now almost a year, I’ve lost more than 50 percent of clients," said Pham.
She started making masks. She had to close last month after her family got COVID. She applied for federal loans, yet it’s not enough.
"It’s still very little compared to how much I really need to open my store and take care of my family," said Pham.
"When I got out of the hospital having been in the hospital for over a week, as a result of COVID-19, I knew needed to do something to support our community," said San Jose Planning Commissioner Rolando Bonilla.
Bonilla fought for his life and lost an uncle to COVID. Now he’s fighting to help struggling mom and pop businesses. He’s helped support the fund as well as other San Jose residents. The East San Jose COVID-19 relief fund helps businesses with five or fewer employees receive up to a $5,000 grant.
"If we don't do everything we can to protect them, not only do we lose these businesses but we are also losing the very fabric of our community," said Bonilla.
"Welcome to the east side of San Jose, you are well aware of where we are," said Magdalena Carrasco, San Jose councilwoman. "We are in 95122, 95116, the highest impacted zip codes in the county."
East San Jose is predominantly Latino and residents there have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
"You see a lot of businesses shut down, a lot of restaurants closing," said Cynthia Velazquez of Dulceria Mi Carnival.
Velazquez owns the East San Jose staple for 30 years with custom piñatas. The business is hurting without large gatherings. She is among those applying.
"The person who knows us are the ones that are trying to help," said Velazquez. "It’s wonderful and I’m grateful for the opportunity to apply for the grant."
The fund is aimed to help those afraid or don’t know how to apply for federal loans. If you’d like to apply: www.prosperitylab.org