Small businesses across Long Beach will soon be able to apply for grants to help offset costs incurred by the recent rise in property crimes and vandalism, city officials announced Friday.

The city has allocated $350,000 from the Long Beach Recovery Act for the Visual Improvement Grant program. The $1,500 grants are available for local businesses that were affected by crime or vandalism on or after Oct. 1, 2022, and they can be used for storefront repairs, boarding costs, insurance deductibles and business operating expenses, according to the announcement.

“Small businesses are a key component to a vibrant community” Economic Development Director Bo Martinez said in a statement. “This grant opportunity is one of several the City has provided over the last few years to help small businesses get through challenging times and start to thrive once again.”

Across the city, property crime accounted for nearly 84% of all reported crime last year, according to Long Beach Police Department data. Property crime rose 7.6% last year compared to 2021, with 13,895 reports filed—an average of 38 reports per day.

Commercial burglary, with 941 reports, was up 26.3% compared to 2021, data shows.

The program is part of the city’s efforts to combat the homelessness crisis, for which the city declared a state of emergency earlier this month. City officials noted that while some of the reported crime and vandalism is related to the city’s unhoused population, housed people also commit these crimes regularly for a variety of reasons, including “increases in societal stressors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic effects.”

The announcement comes days after the popular Beachwood Brewing announced it would temporarily shutter its kitchen in Downtown, citing several issues, including safety and cleanliness concerns surrounding people experiencing homelessness in the area.

Grant applications open Feb. 22, and the program’s activities will be tracked and reported on the Long Beach Recovery Act website.

“Our small business owners have endured several crises over the last few years while keeping their shops running and their employees working,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement. “With this new grant opportunity, the City continues to provide support during this process of recovery.”

Beachwood Brewing to temporarily close Downtown kitchen, citing area’s ongoing safety and cleanliness issues

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.