United for Small Business NYC (USBnyc) is a coalition of community organizations across New York City fighting to protect small businesses and non-residential tenants from the threat of displacement, with a focus on owner-operated, minority-run businesses that serve low-income and minority communities.
Our platform includes:
- Fighting speculation and cultural displacement
- Giving commercial tenants tools to fight back against predatory landlords, including access to legal services and protections against harassment
- Penalizing landlords who warehouse vacant commercial space
USBnyc Policy Demands for COVID-19
Our members and clients (small businesses, sole proprietorships, cooperatives, street vendors, and non-profits who provide goods and services to the public) are seeing a catastrophic drop in income, ranging from 50 to 80 percent. Because of this, we need swift action to protect small businesses and non-residential tenants from displacement and closure.
Here is a list of resources for small businesses and vendors in New York City
USBnyc believes that all COVID-19 relief measures must be universal. We are only as resilient as the most vulnerable members of our community. Relief must include street vendors, delivery workers, freelancers, cultural workers, gig workers, sole-proprietors, unbanked people, and undocumented immigrants. We are calling on our elected officials to provide relief to those excluded from the CARES Act.
Current Campaign: Commercial Rent Stabilization
Commercial rent stabilization would limit rent increases on commercial space. It protects commercial tenants from displacement due to exorbitant rent hikes and unregulated fees and provides stability for small businesses and the people who depend on them.
The rising cost of rent impacts commercial tenants across New York City. The communities that tend to be hardest hit are communities of color and communities facing rapid gentrification.
We need to prevent speculative landlords from profiting off our neighborhoods. 48% of NYC’s small businesses are run by immigrants, and roughly 26% of New Yorkers work at a small business. When small businesses vanish, so do jobs, community spaces, and affordable goods and services.
In 2019, Councilmember Steve Levin (District 33, Brooklyn) sponsored Intro 1796, which would create a board to set annual rent increase rates for small office, retail, and manufacturing spaces, as well as creating penalties for rent overcharges. USBnyc supports a strong commercial rent stabilization bill that includes mechanisms for enforcement and fair criteria for the board’s decisions.
Are you a small business owner? Do you belong to a group that wants to prevent displacement and speculation?
- Follow us on Twitter and use our hashtags: #NoSmallBizNoNYC #FairRentNYC
- Tell your council member you support commercial rent stabilization
- Talk to your neighbors and other businesses in your area about commercial rent stabilization!
- Email email@example.com to become part of the coalition!
- Commercial Tenant Harassment Law
The Commercial Tenant Harassment Law in New York City prohibits a landlord from harassing their commercial tenants by way of making discriminatory threats (e.g., age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), requesting citizenship status, and interfering with a tenant’s construction or repairs. If a landlord does harass their tenant, they can be fined up to $50,000 per property and a court can deny that landlord construction plans at the building until the harassment has ceased.
- Legal Support for Small Businesses
The NYC Department of Small Business Services launched the Commercial Lease Assistance Program, which provides small businesses with legal services on leasing as a way to address the power imbalance between commercial tenants and the landlords who exploit them.
- Storefront Tracker Legislation
The City now has to maintain a public and searchable database – a Storefront Tracker – that requires landlords to report the median rents, lease terms, and vacancies of all first and second floor commercial spaces.This legislation will allow policymakers, advocates, and community members to track vacancy trends in their own neighborhoods and communities while holding landlords accountable for failing to register.
- State of the Storefronts Legislation
The City is now required to conduct a comprehensive analysis of neighborhood commercial corridors every five years. Very little data exists about commercial spaces in the city, which means we have a very unclear picture of how vast our commercial vacancy issue is. This legislation – the State of the Storefronts – gives policymakers and advocates the necessary information to create meaningful protections for New York’s commercial tenants.
Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development
Want to be part of USBnyc? Contact us!