LOCAL NEWS

Storefront Repair Fund addresses vandalism for Seattle businesses with new grants

Oct 4, 2022, 6:45 PM
(Photo courtesy of Downtown Seattle Association)...
(Photo courtesy of Downtown Seattle Association)
(Photo courtesy of Downtown Seattle Association)

Seattle small businesses can now apply for grants of up to $2,000 each to offset the costs of property crimes.

Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the creation of the $2 million Storefront Repair Fund today from the University District, which he said has seen its share of vandalism against mom-and-pop shops in the past few years. The grants will go toward repairing windows, doors, and other damage to buildings.

“A broken exterior door, glass door, costs at least about $2,000 to replace,” said Seattle City Councilmember Sara Nelson, a small business owner herself. “This is a cost, when repeated over and over again, that is enough to close a business.”

While a grant may only cover the cost of one door or window replacement — and not the repeated break-ins that some businesses have faced — Nelson said it is a start.

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“The need to help small businesses far surpasses the resources available,” she told KIRO Newsradio. “We’ve got to start somewhere, and this is a fine place to start.”

Harrell said that this was just one piece of the plans in the pipeline to help small businesses as they recover from a very challenging couple of years.

“This is a practical program to make things better. We are not saying that this is the whole solution, but it is a step forward,” he said. “And that’s what we strive for every day, a step forward in the right direction.”

Economic Development Director Markham McIntyre added that limiting the grants to $2,000 will allow the city to “help as many businesses as possible right out of the gate.”

Costs incurred from shoplifting and graffiti are not covered by these grants. Maysaa Abouhamze, who owns Cinnaholic on Capitol Hill, told KIRO Newsradio that her bakery is constantly being tagged and re-tagged with graffiti.

“If I wanted to repair that, it would probably cost me $300 to $500 a month,” she said.

McIntyre said that the city has other programs to help business owners deal with graffiti, and noted that it was “something [the city] would continue looking at … how it’s costing a business, and what can the city do in partnership to help relieve that.”

The grants are retroactive, meaning businesses can be reimbursed for any repairs they have had to make since the beginning of 2021.

Online applications will open on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Grants will be given on a rolling basis until the funds run out.

“Ultimately, this is not about replacing broken windows, but about opening things back up and helping put eyes back on the street to activate our communities — making this a city that’s inviting not just to visitors and tourists, but to neighbors and residents and community members,” Harrell said.

Follow Nicole Jennings on Twitter or email her here

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Storefront Repair Fund addresses vandalism for Seattle businesses with new grants