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Supervisor Dean Preston and District Attorney Chesa Boudin Announce First-of-Its-Kind Victim Assistance Program for Merchants

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Avery Yu (415) 940-4610, avery.yu@sfgov.org [Sup. Preston]
Rachel Marshall (415) 416-4468, Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org [DA Boudin]

Pilot Program Assists District 5 Small Businesses Whose Windows are Smashed Since the Start of Shelter in Place

Monday, September 21 — Amidst unprecedented financial hardship for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Supervisor Preston and District Attorney Boudin announced today a partnership between their offices to spearhead a first-of-its-kind victim assistance program for small neighborhood businesses. The program will launch as a pilot for small businesses located in District 5 which will receive grants to offset the costs of smashed windows.

During the pandemic-driven economic recession, San Franciscans everywhere are feeling financial strain, particularly small business owners. Despite the reduced funding through the budget process for District-specific projects, Supervisor Preston and District Attorney Boudin collaborated to create this six-figure pilot program to provide merchants with crucial relief for smashed windows at a time when businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

“Small businesses are barely making it, and many are closing. I’m proud to partner with the District Attorney’s office on this creative approach to get crucial financial relief into the hands of struggling small businesses in District 5,” said Supervisor Dean Preston.” 

“Victim assistance is a crucial component of my work as District Attorney of San Francisco,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “Too often, crime victims are left to shoulder the losses from crime. In California, we have programs to assist victims of violent crime, but no state funding to help victims of property crimes. That’s why I’m excited for this groundbreaking program to provide victim assistance to small businesses.”

In order to comply with Health Orders, many businesses are operating at limited capacity.  Approximately 2,000 businesses in San Francisco have shuttered permanently as a result of COVID-19. Among other economic burdens associated with the State of Emergency, small businesses are experiencing broken windows and vandalism—which can be a costly for business owners. Replacement of a broken storefront window can cost between $2,500 and $10,000, with the typical insurance deductible payment of $1,000 out of pocket for the merchant.

Michelle Polzine, owner of 20th Century Cafe in Hayes Valley experienced a window smash to her restaurant this summer. “It’s been a struggle to survive during this period. To add insult to injury, our window was smashed, costing us thousands of dollars. We’re thrilled to see a program that will support small businesses in the District,” said Polzine.

Under the pilot program, eligible businesses can be reimbursed up to $1,000 of the cost of replacing a storefront window with a maximum of two reimbursements per year. The program is retroactive; businesses are eligible for reimbursements for the costs of repairing broken windows for incidents that occurred on or after March 17, 2020, the start of Shelter in Place.

Eligibility requirements for businesses include:

  • The qualifying incident occurred in Supervisorial District 5 in San Francisco
  • The business is currently in good standing
  • Businesses that have a total annual revenue under $25M
  • A claim is presented within 120 days of incident or within 120 days of the start of this program.

Immigration status does not affect eligibility. Self-employed, sole-proprietors and independent contractors are also eligible for coverage under the program.

To apply for an eligible business in District 5, please visit the application on the District Attorney’s Office’s website.