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White Communities Received The Most PPP Loans (San Diego News Now)

In some white and wealthy Census tracts, upwards of 99% of businesses got federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Meanwhile, in some low-income minority tracts, fewer than 5% received funds. Meanwhile, English Learner student enrollment dropped over the past year. And, new information on how our local military members are getting vaccinated.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, May 3rd.

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PPP loans largely went to the white and wealthy in San Diego

More on that next, but first… let’s do the headlines….

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Firefighters are currently battling a wildfire in Shelter Valley that broke out on Saturday evening. The fire ’s burned 65-hundred acres, and is 25% contained as of this morning. About 500 residents were evacuated from the Butterfield Ranch Campground. According to Cal fire San Diego, three structures were destroyed.

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Four people are dead after a boat suspected of human smuggling sank near Point Loma on Sunday. That’s according to Border patrol officials. 29 people were rescued and then taken to various hospitals in San Diego. Officials say the boat crashed into the shoreline near Cabrillo National monument, and then cap-sized.

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The Colorado River, that feeds various irrigations and water supplies in California, is preparing to declare it’s first official water shortage later this year.
Ted Cooke is general manager of the Central Arizona Project.
“Pain is related to loss in this case, and it is a loss of a supply that we have been accustomed to up to this point, certain water users have, and they are no longer going to have that.”
He says his agency is trying to mitigate the shortage, but some users will be left without a water supply.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

A centerpiece of the federal government’s response to the pandemic was a massive cash infusion for businesses called the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. But KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser says there was a big disparity in how that money was given out in San Diego and elsewhere–favoring wealthy and white areas.

The Corona family had long dreamed of opening a Mexican restaurant in their hometown of Imperial Beach. And in early 2020, they were on their way. Then came the pandemic.
Tania Corona
Lumbre Mexican Seafood Owner
“When we were getting ready to open, everything was already closed. Everything was different for us.”
She opened for takeout orders in April, but still struggled to make rent.
So when the federal Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, loan program was announced, Corona immediately went to her bank to try to get funding.
“They said I wouldn’t qualify for the one they were offering, because my business was so new.”
Lumbre broll
The Corona family’s story is one that became all too common in San Diego County and throughout the country during 2020.
Trillions of federal dollars were sloshing through the economy, but relatively few were ending up in the pockets of business owners in underserved places like Imperial Beach.
When you look at the share of businesses receiving loans, there is a stark divide between North and South county. The success rate for applicants from Census tracts in Imperial Beach, San Ysidro, Nestor and Paradise Hills — mainly low-income areas with large minority populations — was 5% or less. But travel north to affluent, mostly white Census tracts in places like Carlsbad, Poway and Encinitas and the success rates are 96% or above.
The primary reason for this inequity is that PPP loans were distributed by banks. And many small, minority-owned businesses who lack existing banking relationships, says Mark Herbert, a small business advocate.
Mark Herbert
Small Business Majority
“When you build a program and just bolt it on top of our existing system, it’s going to exacerbate the problems that existed even before the pandemic.”
The data show vast inequity in San Diego County. Lenders here gave 61% of loans to businesses in majority-white census tracts, and just under 12% to businesses in majority-Latinx census tracts.
While Corona was barely hanging on in Imperial Beach, Molly Boyd, the owner of Bryll Hair Lounge in Carlsbad, was facing her own crisis. In March 2020, she, like hair stylists everywhere, had to close her salon. Her clients didn’t take it well.
Molly Boyd
Bryll Hair Lounge Owner
“Everybody started panicking, not only healthwise, but just like, ‘I have to look good,’ I mean, we are in California.”
She also applied for a PPP loan from her usual bank and was put on a waiting list. Her friends told her about a bank that had no waiting list, and she quickly got funding. But Boyd doesn’t see inequity in the process.
“If you didn’t put in the time and the work and the extra that you needed to to stay afloat, then you’re just complaining. 00:28:59:22 “It’s hard to say, oh, you didn’t have internet, like it’s 2021, everybody has internet, and if you don’t have it, then you better get a new phone.”
Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez
Imperial Beach Councilmember 12;13;10;29
“A lot of these businesses…maybe don’t have wifi, or a computer, so we ended up giving out fliers.”
Imperial Beach Councilman Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez represents the area that got the lowest rates of loans.
He says the challenges go beyond internet connections and phones. Many have few, if any, employees, and their prior experiences with banks and other lenders have been more negative than positive.
“I think they felt a little inferior in applying.”
In recent months, the federal government has tried to give out money more equitably, including setting aside a two-week period where only small businesses in low income areas could apply.
But in the meantime, business owners like Corona in Imperial Beach are looking to the future, and hoping for a recovery that will keep them afloat.
Right now, she works another full time job while running the restaurant and taking care of her kids.
“We have good days and bad days, I think more bad than good right now.”
She’s getting ready to open for in-person dining in the next few weeks, and hopes new customers will come to sample her dad’s speciality, salmon soup.
Claire Trageser, KPBS News

Claire also spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Kavanaugh about her story.
Here’s that interview.

And that was KPBS Investigative reporter Claire Trageser, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Maureen Kavanaugh. To use our searchable map to see what areas of San Diego got the most loans, go to KPBS dot org slash P-P-P.

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Coming up…. Enrollment rates have dropped at San Diego’s public schools, but for english learner students enrollment dropped even more. Also, we’ll have more information on how the local military is getting vaccinated. All that next, just after the break.

Public school enrollment is down across the state but the number of English Learner students has dropped even more this past year in both the state and county. KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong has more.

GRAPHIC 1The number of English Learners enrolled in public schools statewide dropped by about 8% this school year, which is the largest drop in the past 5 years.
GRAPHIC 2In San Diego, the drop was even more dramatic at 12%.
Experts say the decline can be largely explained by economic conditions that have been worsened by the pandemic. Students whose first language isn’t English are more likely to come from low-income families who were hit hard during the pandemic year. Jorge Cuevas Antillon is the district advisor for curriculum and instruction at the San Diego County Office of Education.
CUEVASANTILLON.mp400:00:47:06JORGE CUEVAS ANTILLON /// SDCOE DISTRICT ADVISOR FOR CURRICULUMThere are a lot of folks who are being priced out. Rents are still not affordable or controllable. I know there are research pieces out there on affordability in the country showing that our region of the state of the country is one of the most unaffordable for people who are working class or the working poor.
Among large San Diego County districts, the Chula Vista Elementary School District had the greatest drop in English Learner enrollment
GRAPHIC 3Overall enrollment dropped by about 3% at the district, while English Learner enrollment dropped by about 19%.
One reason for the big drop in Chula Vista could be that more students have mastered the language and no longer qualify as English learners. But others may have just fallen through the cracks, especially during the pandemic. Lalaine Perez is the district’s executive director for English Learners.
PEREZ.mp400:03:14:00LALAINE PEREZ /// CVESDThis year, not only in our school district, but across the nation, the registration process occurred online. And so there are alot of different challenges that could impede how we accurately identify those English Learners.
Educators across the county agree that while the number of English Learners is smaller, they’ll need extra attention to recover academically after a year of distance learning. Joe Hong KPBS News.

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For the first time we’re hearing about vaccination progress for local military members.

KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman says with such a large military population in San Diego, knowing how many of them and their families have been vaccinated is critical to reaching herd immunity.

According to Navy data, around 60 percent of San Diego’s military population have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine — new numbers show a combined 66-thousand marines and sailors have rolled up their sleeves so far..
zoom_0//// 1:14.836 Peters
The department of defense is not used to giving up their information some of it is sensitive
Congressman Scott Peters representing San Diego helped get access to this and other federal data.. as local health officials are trying to get the most accurate picture of vaccination progress here-
Zoom_0 //// 0:47.825 Rep. Scott Peters, (D) 52nd Congressional District
The county had a problem because there is so many military people so we got a call from the chairman nathan fletcher saying we need that data
Peters says between active duty, dependents and other department of defense retirees there are around 328-thousand San Diegans who get their healthcare from a DOD provider–
Zoom_0 ///// 2:10.332 Peters
We have such a large population of active duty indepenets or DOD beneficiaries that we need those counts to be able to decide how the county is doing
Peters got the data — and out of the more than 300-thousand DOD beneficiaries in San Diego, 29 percent have gotten one dose and 19 percent are fully vaccinated. Those numbers are lower than just active duty, but some may have gotten shots outside federal facilities.
Zoom_0 //// 2:51.928 Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor
There’s probably a lot of DOD active duty or dependents who went through a county site, the DOD it doesn’t matter where you get it
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher spearheaded the effort to get both DOD and veterans affairs vaccination data added to county totals–
Zoom_0 //// 1:33.819 Fletcher
So we can really track where we are on the progress toward our goals
That includes getting VA data too, which as of this week includes some 70-thousand vaccinated veterans– but Fletcher says it will still take some time to get the military’s numbers onto the county’s vaccination dashboard–
zoom_0/// 0:30.415 Fletcher
To date the numbers that reflect all those administered by healthcare providers, county of san diego pretty much everyone except DOD
Military officials have committed to updating local health officials on vaccination progress on a regular basis. MH KPBS News
That was KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.