coronavirus pandemic

PPP Loan Applicant Pool Includes Thousands of Churches

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Churches are among those applying for and receiving federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, including thousands here in San Diego.

Earmarked for small businesses, the program fell under scrutiny after some large public corporations were given millions to supplement their payrolls. Now some are wondering how churches qualify for the funding.

Churches are combined religious and civil corporations. They keep payrolls like any business. But when congregations were forced to stay home, donations nearly dried up leaving front offices looking to the government for assistance, just like for-profit operations.

Kevin Eckery Vice Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego san the immediate cut off of funding impacted all of the diocese’ employees.

“Most of the jobs we have believe it or not are teachers."

Every parish in the local diocese qualified for and received PPP loans, according to Eckery.

Nationwide, 12,000 of the 17,00 plus parishes in the country applied for PPP loans and more than half qualified, according to Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference Director Pat Markey.

And it’s not just the catholic churches applying. Evangelical research firm Lifeway surveyed the nations protestant churches and found 40 percent of those parishes applied. More than half qualified, according to Lifeway director Scott McConnell.

“The government was really trying to help anybody with a payroll. There are a lot of Americans employed by non-profits, churches being the largest number of those,” McConnell said.

Churches and other non-profits must qualify for the PPP loans like any other small business, and just like any other recipient they must pay it back if they don’t use it for what it is intended.

The San Diego Catholic Diocese said two-thirds of its employees are full time. The loan will pay the salaries of school teachers and staff, catholic charities workers and those who work in the pastoral center.

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