Sunset Park

Lee blasts Velázquez over SBA loans

Candidate says business owners need grants

February 2, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Congressional hopeful Yungman Lee charges that U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez isn’t doing enough to help small businesses. The congresswoman says he is wrong. Photo courtesy of Lee campaign
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The race between incumbent U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez and Democratic primary opponent Yungman Lee is starting to heat up.

Lee, a Chinatown banker, is hitting Velázquez hard on the question of helping small businesses in her congressional district in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Lee charged in a press release that the incumbent’s efforts are inadequate and fail to provide any relief to struggling business owners.

Velázquez (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan-Queens), the ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business, recently announced a one-year extension for businesses to apply for loans from the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist with financial needs resulting from Sandy. 

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That’s not good enough, according to Lee, who said it’s not loans that business owners need, but grants.

“It’s preposterous that Ms. Velázquez and the Small Business Administration are still pushing loans, when what small businesses need are grants and loan forgiveness. Small businesses, which are the lifeblood and spine of neighborhoods, and a defining feature of immigrant communities, are already drowning in debt,” Lee said.

Lee is the CEO of a Community Bank in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and is a former deputy superintendent of the New York State Banking Department.

“I examine the financial health of small businesses every day and know that what they need in the aftermath of a natural disaster is not more debt. They need grants and forgiveness of the loans they are already struggling with as a result of the disaster,” Lee said.

Complicating the issue, according to a Lee campaign spokesperson, is the burdensome paperwork business owners have to fill out to get an SBA loan.

“SBA loans require volumes of paperwork. In this situation they need receipts and documents from over three years ago,” said Alana Samoles, deputy communications director for Lee for Congress. “And what of documents that were destroyed in the storm, or lost in a relocation?”

Business owners “deserve better than press releases and insufficient plans,” Lee said.

A spokesman for Velázquez said the congresswoman’s opponent is flat-out wrong.

“Not only is Mr. Lee grasping at straws, but his comments are insulting to the New York City businesses who received $184 million in loans after the storm to help rebuild. Since then, thanks to the law the congresswoman authored, businesses, renters, homeowners and other New Yorkers affected by Sandy have received another $3.4 million in assistance — in just two months — with more resources on the way,” the spokesman told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.  

“Mr. Lee’s negative, scorched earth tactics simply turn off voters from the process and it is sad to see him acting so desperately. Rather than blasting out inflammatory press releases, the congresswoman will stay focused on helping New York small businesses,” the spokesman said.

The 7th Congressional District, which Velázquez represents, includes parts of Sunset Park, Red Hook and Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn; Chinatown and the Lower East Side in Manhattan; and Woodhaven and Ozone Park in Queens.

The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 28.

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