The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has greenlighted the $1.9 million funding to help SF Chinatown businesses severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chinatown relief plan, which received approval from the board on Jan. 19, would still need to pass a vote this week. Mayor London Breed has 10 days to sign it before it becomes law, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We’re ready to fight to preserve this iconic neighborhood and this is one small step toward that,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said.
In addition to the $1.9 million funding, the mayor’s office is also planning to add $500,000 into the budget and another $100,000 from the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), bringing the total funding to $2.5 million.
This money will help fund the CCDC’s Feed + Fuel Chinatown, a program launched in partnership with the nonprofit SF New Deal and the Human Services Agency that launched in April and lasted through July 2020, the San Francisco Business Times reported.
The funding will help the community in multiple ways, including funding roughly 60 restaurants, keeping their employees on the payroll and feeding 2,400 residents over eight weeks. It will also help control the spread of COVID-19 through shared kitchens of single-room occupancy hotels.
600 residents have already received meal vouchers from 10 restaurants, including Yuet Lee Seafood Restaurant, Hang Ah Tea Room and Far East Cafe.
The assistance comes at a critical time as Chinatown will not celebrate Lunar New Year next month.
“The timeliness of this program is really critical,” CCDC executive director Malcolm Yeung said, explaining that businesses in Chinatown typically receive 30% of revenue during the festive season. “We’re in a moment right now where we don’t have Chinese New Year in the traditional way, and this is the second year in a row.”
Yeung plans to raise an additional $1 million from foundations and donations to extend their program for four more weeks.
The movement to help Chinatown restaurants gained attention after Far East Cafe announced permanent closure in December. Although the funding also covers the restaurant, it’s unclear if the owners will reverse their decision.