Tampa City Councilmember Luis Viera, who represents District 7 which includes New Tampa, wrote the following for the Neighborhood News and their New Tampa readers.

The effects of Covid-19 present a catastrophic challenge.  In mere days, Americans went from relative affluence to fear and insecurity.

For our families, this crisis is acute and traumatic.  The good news is that Tampa residents are not alone.

For small businesses, there exists a growing number of initiatives that can help.

These initiatives include:

1. There is the Tampa Recovery Hotline (1-800-TPA-INFO) for social service and business relief information. Updates on business resources can be received by texting TAMPABIZ to 888-777.

2. Florida has the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program (FloridaDisasterLoan.org). This interest-free loan is intended to “bridge the gap” for a catastrophe for up to $50,000.00 per eligible small business (with applications accepted through May 8, 2020, contingent upon availability).  

The loan is short term: 0% interest the first year, 12% after that.

3. The Florida Business Damage Assessment Survey (FloridaDisaster.Biz/businessdamageassessments) will measure the business impact of this crisis in Florida for further actions.

4. And, the federal Small Business Administration also makes low-interest loans for qualified applications (SBA.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance).

Those laid off can look at StateOfFlorida.com/articles/florida-unemployment for unemployment assistance.

For an updated list of resources, visit Tampagov.net/emergency-management/covid-19. The City of Tampa is establishing a task force for Social Services and an Economic Development Task Force to find other ways to help.

Know that as your Tampa City Councilman, I will continue to work to make resources available for constituents and make calls to local businesses and residents.  

And federal, state and local resources will continue to grow.

So many of the stories I have heard are crushing: I spoke to a recent immigrant who came here with nothing, found success, began a restaurant and now has had to close shop; a small business owner digging into his savings to allow his employees to have something to live on; and workers feeling abandoned with no savings or health insurance after their last day on the job.

Houses of worship are doing much more with a lot less.  And anxiety, depression and emotional challenges are brutally compounded.

I ask that you do your patriotic duty.  Engage in best practices as recommended by medical professionals. Practice acts of compassion for the vulnerable. If you are a member of a religious congregation, support your congregation’s purpose.

People are hurting and suffering But, have no doubt, we will rebound as a people.

Americans are, at heart, fighters. Many of us come from families that, as immigrants and refugees, fought against crushing odds just to get here and be called Americans.

We, as Americans, have, in just the last 100 years, overcome a Great Depression, defeated the Nazis, saw many of our fellow Americans beaten and sometimes murdered in fighting Jim Crow, won the Cold War and sustained the September 11th terror attacks.

We will overcome this crisis and will do so together as Americans. We have different faiths and traditions, but are all Americans who are our brother and sister’s keeper.

And, please know that you can always count on my help and friendship along the way.

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