With a new administration in Washington, there will be a new approach to hundreds of federal programs and how they impact people.
Top of the list for many? The third round of the Payroll Protection Program.
A number of smaller, minority owned businesses struggled during the pandemic despite a massive, multi-billion dollar Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) designed to help them.
Lashbrow Center Wilton received well below $20,000 in PPP assistance, as owner Giselle Tyler watched multinational companies get millions.
“We were one of the first non-essential businesses to be shut down”, Tyler said.
That’s why the Center for Responsible Lending has issued a position paper with its recommendations for improving the $284 billion, third round of the PPP.
One idea: remove barriers to participation, including the exclusion of applicants charged with, but not convicted of a crime, and those who are delinquent but have not defaulted on student loans.
“These are business owners, they should be able to access this program…. there’s a whole section of people who, no one has found them guilty of anything they haven’t been tried in court, yet they can’t access the program”, said Ashley Harrington, federal advocacy director for the Center for Responsible Lending.
CRL added that the PPP loans need better tracking to make sure minority and female-owned businesses don’t get passed by.
“For the first two rounds, nowhere on the application…did it even ask for demographic information…what race or ethnicity you were, what gender you identify with, whether you are a veteran or not,” Harrington said.
Professor Gary Rose, chair of the government department at Sacred Heart University, agrees with the CRL on getting more PPP data.
“I think it’s really important to have a strong database, real hard core evidence,” Rose said.
Rose added he believes more detailed PPP data will help people running the program get the funding where it’s needed most, even if it doesn’t always line up with the goals from the Center for Responsible Lending.
“We don’t start picking businesses based on demographics. That’s certainly not consistent with the principles of our American economy.”
Changes to the PPP will come slowly. But like the first and second rounds, they will come as the program is up and running. The third round of the PPP program actually launched earlier this month.