Small Businesses Helped New York Rebound. Their Rent is Surging.


    But last year, a new landlord bought the building next door, which is home to another business that Mr. Althary operates. He is concerned that the owner will raise the rent and make him pay a portion of the property taxes.

    Mr. Althary already owes substantial back rent across his businesses, he said, because of pandemic disruptions, and he was forced to permanently close two of them last year. He said he applied for an loan through the Small Business Administration to help pay down the debt, but did not qualify, because he was missing paperwork.

    “I have a mountain on my chest,” Mr. Althary said in Arabic.

    He was not alone in being turned down. The federal agency received just over 1 million loan applications for its pandemic relief program in New York State; only 339,000, or less than a third, were approved, according to an agency spokeswoman.

    Somia Elrowmeim, a board member with the Alliance of Yemeni American Businesses, said many immigrant-owned businesses did not qualify for public grants and loans because they did not keep sufficient payroll records and in some cases employed undocumented workers.

    Unlike some residential tenants, store owners who rent their spaces have no right to renew their leases and are not protected from large rent increases when they expire, said Rolando Gonzalez, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society.

    Many store owners, especially in immigrant communities, operate on monthly lease agreements, Mr. Gonzalez said.

    Christian Ramos, 43, the owner of Blue Chus Shoe Repair in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, said that he and most of his neighbors had month-to-month leases.

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