Pittsburgh small business says bank is forcing it to pay back Paycheck Protection Program loan

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh small business was left scrambling after its bank sent notice that it would have to pay back its Paycheck Protection Program loan that helped it stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PPP loans were a lifeline for many businesses during the pandemic. Owners were promised they wouldn’t have to pay the money back if it went to their employees.

Clean Day Housekeeping in Pittsburgh was one of the more than 11 million businesses nationwide to get a PPP loan. The owners told Channel 11 they explicitly used the money to pay workers. But several weeks ago, PNC Bank said only part of the $31,500 they borrowed would be forgiven.

“Dumbfounded. Just completely dumbfounded. I don’t understand. If you take out a loan on your house, they don’t come back a year later and say we changed our mind on how this is going to be paid back,” said co-owner Jessie Belonzie.

PNC Bank was going to start automatically withdrawing the funds from Clean Day Housekeeping’s business account to repay the loan starting Wednesday. Belonzie said they were racing to get their money into a new account with a different bank and said they won’t pay until they get more information.

The owners said the only explanation they can find on why the loan isn’t being forgiven is a passing comment from a loan officer who said the bank may have overextended.

“The money was given to banks and they may have over-given or promised funding to businesses like ours. And now they’re trying to recoup that.”

Based on the latest data from the Small Business Administration, about 6% of businesses who file for loan forgiveness are not getting it. But about 6 million businesses have yet to even apply. The SBA has yet to respond to our questions.

Channel 11 reached out to PNC Bank for comment.  A spokesperson released this statement:

PNC does not comment on individual customer loans or relationships.  We comply with applicable SBA rules and guidance in connection with decisions regarding forgiveness of PPP loans. If clients have questions about the PPP loan forgiveness process, we encourage them to visit the PPP page on pnc.com, where detailed information and additional resources are available.