KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - Inside St. James Methodist Church Tuesday, the staff from Senator Blunt and Congressman Cleaver’s team invited community leaders from all sectors to explain what people needed.

“I would ask all the political figures in here to figure out how we can work together to help our businesses,” Nia Richardson with KC BizCare said.

In a room of a couple dozen invited community leaders, Representative Emmanuel Cleaver and Senator Roy Blunt listened to people like Richardson explaining the struggles small business owners are facing because of the coronavirus.

“I hope they go back and really consider the ways they can make small businesses a priority and realize small businesses can help solve a lot of things,” Richardson said.

Richardson says during the pandemic, her office has noticed an increase in people wanting to open their own businesses, but she says there is not enough support for new entrepreneurs.

A University of Missouri-Kansas City study found out of 4,677 federal paycheck protection program loans in our region:

  • 24 went to Black-owned firms
  • 34 went to Hispanic-owned firms
  • 33 went to Asian-owned firms
  • 250 went to women-owned firms

“They probably didn’t have a state registration or probably didn’t have a bank account because barriers between small businesses and banks and getting bank accounts and loans so they couldn’t prove that history and were still left out,” Richardson said.

Richardson would like to see policymakers address barriers businesses face accessing federal help in starting, sustaining and purchasing personal protective equipment.

“Entrepreneurship and that’s a big thing when it comes to wealth in our community and sustaining our communities so we can get out of this rut that we’re in,” Richardson said.

KC BizCare has resources available for small businesses who are struggling and people who want to learn how to start a business.

It’s not often that Democratic and Republican leaders get together, but in a show of solidarity, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Senator Roy Blunt joined in a listening session with community leaders Tuesday.

Another big topic on the first of the month is when will Americans get another stimulus package. Representative Cleaver and Senator Blunt heard from handpicked community leaders about problems in the pandemic, but Tara Raghuveer from KC Tenants was not invited.

“What we’re seeing is an average of about 100-200 eviction proceedings that are happening on a weekly basis down at the courthouse or by conference call,” KC Tenants Director Tara Raghuveer said.

The latest numbers show 30 million Americans are unemployed a trend Raghuveer says trickles down locally as her organization has tracked at least 2,000 eviction filings in our community since June.

“It impacts kids, it impacts their ability to learn in school. It impacts a parent’s ability to keep their jobs, it impacts access to transportation, it impacts physical and mental health especially at a time like this,” Raghuveer said.

KC Tenants has been advocating for a rent and mortgage cancellation or assistance at the federal, state and local level. At the least she would like to see lawmakers agree on a stimulus package favorable to working families.

Senator Blunt and Representative Cleaver took turns answering questions before the listening session. KCTV5 News asked about another stimulus package.

“I know every day that we delay is a delay where people fall deeper and deeper into despair. The people who received help from the stimulus $1,200 check and $600 a week all of that is in Heroes Act which is still sitting on the desk of majority leader,” Representative Cleaver said.

Raghuveer says she believes policy makers are putting politics over people.

“The fact is we are all going to pay for what is going to occur in the next several months which is unprecedented numbers of people being forced to the streets,” Raghuveer said.

The house returns to Capitol Hill next Tuesday. Congressman Cleaver says he’s hopeful both sides will come to an agreement to help people in need sooner rather than later.

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