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SF offers small business grants to repair vandalism damage

Small business owners in San Francisco can now apply for grants to ease the financial burden of storefront vandalism damage, city officials announced Wednesday from the Sunset District.

Under the Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant program, owners could receive up to $2,000 to help pay for repairs, such as broken windows, or they may use the funds to enhance store security. The program expects to serve more than 500 businesses with $1 million secured in this year’s budget. Qualifying businesses must have grossed less than $8 million in 2020 revenue and show proof of vandalism damage that took place on or after July 1, 2020.

Mayor London Breed joined Supervisor Gordon Mar Wednesday at Footprint, a shoe and apparel  store at Taraval and 27th Avenue, to hand owner Michael Hsu a $2,000 check to help pay for vandalism damage. Hsu said his store was hit twice in one night back in February.

The first suspect used a blowtorch to break the glass door and steal some of the store’s more expensive clothing items. Later the same night, looters went in and ransacked the shop. Hsu said the stolen merchandise was worth tens of thousands of dollars. 

Mar said the Sunset District has seen a rise in burglaries and vandalism incidents. Just two of several victimized businesses he named are Mr. Bread bakery on Taraval between 20th and 21st avenues and Frank’s Floral Shop, which was recently robbed and torched near 19th Avenue and Irving Street.

Mar said:

“This has been a very concerning and troubling trend that we’ve seen during the pandemic really impacting our neighborhood businesses that are the heart and soul of our communities.”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay San Francisco Mayor London Breed (left), Supervisor Gordon Mar (center) and Michael Hsu (right), owner of the Footprint store, announced the Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. (Photo by Jerold Chinn/SFBay)

The supervisor said it was Hsu who suggested the grant idea when Mar visited his store after it was vandalized, which inspired him to propose the budget appropriation in June.

Mar said:

“Michael mentioned that it’d be helpful to owners like him (who) suffered these losses to have a little bit of financial support in their recovery, whether it’s to repair the broken windows or damage to the storefront, to pay their insurance deductible or to beef up their security system.”

Breed said that when small businesses are hit by vandals, The City needs to stand by them, adding:

“We have to provide the relief and the support that they need because it’s not just about the business owner and their livelihood. It’s also their employees who are supporting families themselves.”

Some vandalism suspects have been arrested in recent months, including one 36-year-old man who allegedly used various tools to break storefront windows, specifically targeting Chinese-owned businesses, the District Attorney’s Office said last month.

In June, police arrested another 43-year-old man suspected of causing over $35,000 by smashing windows of several businesses in a number of different neighborhoods, .

Hsu said he plans to use his grant money to help pay his insurance deductible, adding:

“Our deductible is what this grant really helps us cover, and we have to sell a lot of shoes to even get to that deductible. So, this fund really will help small businesses.”

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