Skip to main content

WATCH LIVE: San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announcing plans to wind down Operation Shelter To Home at the Convention Center (Posted 03/5/21 at 10:46 a.m.)

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

New Program Serving City Heights Businesses And Residents Hit Hardest By Pandemic

A colorful pillar in City Heights identifies the San Diego neighborhood.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: A colorful pillar in City Heights identifies the San Diego neighborhood.

Jose Nuno is the owner of La Surtidora, a party supply and convenience store in City Heights. Like so many others, he feared for his livelihood when COVID-19 first struck.

“I was like, ‘How am I gonna survive if people stop coming in?’” he said.

Listen to this story by Joe Hong.

Reported by Joe Hong , Video by Mike Damron

Few San Diego neighborhoods have been hit as hard by the pandemic as City Heights. And though Nuno said business has ticked up during the holidays, it still isn’t back to what it was before the pandemic.

But thanks to a new initiative launched by the City Heights Business Association, Nuno is worrying a bit less, both for his store and for his community.

RELATED: City Heights Farmers’ Market Reopens, Providing Fresh Life To Farmers And Community

Earlier this year, the Business Association in collaboration with other City Heights-based organizations raised $300,000 in grants for local businesses struggling amid the pandemic. This month, it raised an additional $5,000 to purchase gift certificates from 50 local businesses. The association then gave those gift certificates to families in need.

“At the same time it’s helping the community and it’s also helping logical businesses,” Nuno said.

The program is currently still in its pilot phase but it will likely grow in the coming weeks.

Enrique Gandarilla, the business association’s executive director, said the gift certificate program could have long-term benefits for businesses in one of the city’s lowest income neighborhoods.

RELATED: More Rent Relief Is On The Way For San Diego Tenants And Landlords

“The businesses are getting new customers who may have never been there before and are now discovering this business in their neighborhood,” Gandarilla said.

Meanwhile, Nuno says it is clear that the gift certificates are going to those who need them most.

“The people who came in with certificates, I could see, were people in need - what they got is milk, eggs and bread,” he said. “It really gives them a little push in these tough times … I wish it could continue forever.”

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Joe Hong

Joe Hong
Education Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an education reporter, I'm always looking for stories about learning. My favorite education stories put a student's face on bigger policy issues. I regularly sift through enrollment data, test scores and school budgets, but telling student-centered stories is my top priority.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.