NEW YORK — Everyone knows the owner of Headrush Barbershop in Brooklyn by his nickname “Goose.”

What only those closest to “Goose” realize is how hard it's been to keep his small business going.

First, amid mandated closures, he got behind on rent, and now the business has a lot more expenses than it used to pre-COVID-19.

What You Need To Know

  • On Monday, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it was making changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to prioritize and further promote equitable access to relief

  • Five PPP reforms include a 14-day exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees which begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday

  • $1 billion will also be set aside for businesses without employees in low-to-moderate income communities. This will give sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals access to PPP funds.

  • SBA data: top five industries to receive PPP loans are “Accommodation & Food Service” at 18%, construction (13%), professional, scientific and technical services (11%), health and social assistance (10%), manufacturing (10%).

“I maxed out three credit cards. So, my credit is shot. So, hopefully, I'll be able to get back with my credit and get on track with my landlord,” said Gustavo “Goose” Montenegro, the owner of Headrush Barbershop.

Part of the problem for “Goose” has been that despite applying twice for financial assistance through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), he never saw a dime. During the first round, $350 billion in loans was distributed in just two weeks.

“The first time they told me there wasn’t enough and to reapply,” said “Goose.” “So, I did it and I was never able to get through.”

Now, he’s hoping the third time’s the charm: The Biden administration has announced five changes to the PPP program. “Goose” stands to benefit from several of them. One includes an exclusive two-week loan application period for businesses with fewer than 20 employees which begins on February 24. The guidelines are supposed to help open up access to those who’ve been excluded from PPP loans in the past.

“[President Biden’s] announcement includes instituting a two-week window, starting Wednesday, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees — so 98% of them — can apply for relief through the program. So they — but that we prioritize support to businesses who were previously left behind,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “The changes also include expanding eligibility so that sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed Americans, as well as immigrants who are lawful permanent residents, can receive more support.”

The new guidelines are supposed to address previous issues with PPP loan distribution.

“The changes announced today will roll back restrictions that disproportionately impacted entrepreneurs of color from receiving relief, including Americans who are behind on student loan payments and business owners who were formerly incarcerated for non-fraud convictions,” said Psaki.

“Goose” believes these changes show there have been equity issues in who has received PPP loans in the past, and is an effort now to right those wrongs.

“People are really looking into it now and seeing there’s a lot of us that fell behind on all this and we’re still in need. A year deep into this and we’re still asking for the help,” said “Goose.”


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