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Baltimore, MD – Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, made the following statement about today's passage of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act by the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation provides $484 billion in support for small businesses, health care providers and expanding testing in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
"This legislation is a desperately-needed first step to helping small businesses owned by people of color and located in underserved areas, which are hardest hit by COVID-19. The CARES Act passed just weeks ago and did not address the needs of these businesses as they struggle for survival. Congress failed to sufficiently fund the Paycheck Protection Program and failed to ensure that smaller businesses and nonprofits led by people of color could actually participate.
The NAACP strongly advocated for measures to ensure the participation of Black-owned businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program. The new legislation allocates billions in funds to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), which can offer financial assistance to businesses and nonprofits that were excluded. These entities are the backbone of our communities. They provide critical services and serve as sources of jobs. We must help them so they can help our communities through this crisis.
But we cannot stop here. As Congress considers a fourth comprehensive stimulus package, it should learn from its mistakes. Communities of color are hurting. We are experiencing staggering rates of infection and fatalities from COVID-19 and also bearing the economic brunt of the crisis. Congress must meet our health care needs, through targeted testing and treatment. It must also provide a panoply of relief measures designed to counter longstanding disparities in health care, education, housing, the economy, the environment, criminal justice system, and political participation."
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP's work and our six "Game Changer" issue areas at naacp.org.