Concord OKs $1 million to help local businesses with back rent

Concord OKs $1 million to help local businesses with back rentCONCORD, CA — In a move to give already stressed small businesses a bit of breathing room for the rest of 2021, the City Council allocated $1 million in Measure V funds to help fend off displacement of commercial tenants as a local moratorium is lifted June 30.

The money will fund 95 $10,000 grants to be paid directly to commercial landlords after the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce approves a joint application with a tenant.

The program prioritizes retail, restaurants and personal services, including hair salons, barbers, nail salons, day spas and fitness studios.

In addition to having a physical location in the city limits, the commercial tenant must have an active business license and must be $10,000 or more behind on rent (arrears) between March 31, 2020, and March 31, 2021.

Businesses not eligible include lending/investment institutions or insurance business, those engaged in illegal activities, gambling establishments and corporate-owned chains or independent franchises with more than three locations in Concord. Home-based businesses and nonprofits are also excluded. Home-based businesses don’t qualify because they are not paying rent for commercial space.
Federal funding options

The chamber has begun a three-week outreach to commercial landlords and tenants, including a webinar on April 21. Businesses and landlords can then submit applications April 26-May 14.

If the number of applicants exceeds the available funding, it moves to a lottery system.

“It is not going to solve everyone’s problem, but it will help,” said Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister, who sees it as “a bridge loan to fill the gap’’ over the next six months.

She hopes that applicants left out of the program can get on some kind of waitlist for federal funds expected from the Biden administration.

Concord may be eligible for reimbursement for the funding, as it’s the sort of novel program that the federal American Rescue Plan is designed to support.

‘Keeping our neighbors employed’

In response to public comment about the absence of funding to support other sectors of the community, Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer said she believed this latest action is attempting to serve a wide swath of the community.

“This is the opposite side of the same coin – whenever we are enabling businesses to pay rent, we are keeping some of our neighbors employed,” Obringer said.

Because this program requires joint participation by the landlord and tenant, economic development officials expect it may not receive a lot of applications. Still, the chamber’s prior outreach received positive support, so there is optimism going forward.

To ease concerns that a landlord could take the money and run, the program includes signing a Memorandum of Understanding that states the tenant will not be evicted prior to the end of 2021.

“It’s a simple way to stress-test the relationship” and determine the long-term viability of a tenant, said Guy Bjerke, director of Economic Development.

Webinar for Commercial Rent ­Relief Program

The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce will host a webinar via Zoom at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, to provide an overview of the city’s new Commercial Rent Relief Program.

The webinar will explain how to apply and what to expect if the business is selected to receive the grant. A Q&A session will allow business owners to ask clarifying questions.

Businesses must register for the webinar ahead of time to obtain the Zoom link and are encouraged to submit questions upon registration.
To register for the webinar, visit Commercial-Grant-Webinar.

For questions about the Measure V Commercial Rent Relief Program, contact the chamber at 925-685-1181 or