MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On Friday, small businesses across the country could apply for the Paycheck Protection Program under the federal government to help with paying their employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, many laid-off employees in various industries are struggling to pay rent. Florida Governor
Ron DeSantis has temporarily suspended evictions and foreclosures for those who can’t pay
rent or their mortgage, but some say they won’t be able to backpay if they still aren’t working.

Mykhailo Zamfira was the executive sous chef at Casa Tua Cucina in the Brickell City Center. He’s currently out of a job, and so is his wife who is a travel agent. Not only is he concerned about paying rent, he’s also worried about his car payments and his child’s daycare.

“If the Governor was saying, for example, we extend for 45 days and after you will just pay
what you will live, not what you owe, [that’d be major],” said Zamfira.

In his free time now, he said he’s teaching cooking lessons online and spending time with his family.

Don Mercedes, a 26-year-old restaurant employee is in the same boat. He even went a step further
and moved back to New Jersey after being laid off from Tigertail + Mary in Coconut Grove. It hadn’t even been open a year and now it’s closed.

The same week Mercedes moved back, his father was laid off too, adding to the difficulties his family is facing during the pandemic. After it’s over, Mercedes said he’ll have to look for a new job in order to come back to South Florida.

“Thankfully, my landlord is patient and great. I even feel bad for him for not getting rent. Renters need relief and landlords need relief. It’s just a domino effect, everyone is getting knocked back by this,” said Mercedes.

That’s why some small business owners like Juan Marcos Rancano of Sweet Caroline’s and RedBar in Brickell are trying to raise funds to help their employees.

“We knew more than anything this is gonna be bit of a struggle,” said Rancano. “We gotta figure out something for them…at the very least, create some type of supplemental income, cover some type of expense for them.”

At the same time, Rancano and his co-partners are trying to keep their business afloat. Rancano said he’s done his research and applied to grant and loans. On Friday, he and his partners tried to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program but encountered some difficulties getting through with the application.

“For us, it’s a race against the clock, said Rancano. “The reality is if we don’t get these loans, there might not be a Sweet Caroline’s [or] a RedBar.

Rancano isn’t sure when he’ll get that money. Even when and if he does, he’s not sure it’ll be enough to match all the demand from small business owners.

“I’ve seen the demand for small businesses in Brickell area,” said Rancano. “I can’t imagine at a national level how many local businesses needed this money. I don’t think it’s going to be enough for sure.”

On Friday night, the head of the Small Business Administration tweeted out that about 17,503 loans have been approved, valued at 5.4 billion dollars.

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Frances Wang

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