Help for Laid Off Service Workers In Pittsburgh

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By NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - As tens of thousands of restaurant and hotel workers file for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania, donations are coming in to help with emergency needs.

The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association has started what it calls HARP, Hospitality Assistance Response for Pennsylvania. Association CEO John Longstreet says many of those laid off live paycheck to paycheck.

"We have a grant process to get money in the hands of employees who may be displaced and they might be facing repossession of their car, what ever it might be," said Longstreet.

Longstreet said over the weekend an offer for what he called a "significant donation" came in from a supplier.

He also believes small business owners may receive no-payback loans from the federal CARE Act passed last week.

"A lot of small business people like the fact that loans are available but aren't sure they'll be able to pay them back."

Longstreet says if the loans are used to keep people on the payroll, they might be forgiven depending on the size of the company. Same thing if loans are used to pay utilities or mortgages.

Longstreet estimates up to 80 percent of restaurants and 50 to 70 percent of hotels have closed. He says some of those closed hotels have already contacted emergency management officials to inquire as to how their space might be used to shelter people as they recover from COVID-19.

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