On Thursday, street vendors, city leaders and human and immigrant rights organizations will hold a rally to celebrate and fight for the city’s street food workforce.
The group is asking the City Council to support street vendors by passing Intro 1116, which would legalize thousands of small businesses by removing a decades-old cap on permits.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Brooklyn Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso and Carlos Menchaca, Urban Justice Center’s Street Vendor Project and a number of others will gather in Times Square at 11 a.m. on August 13th.
The rally will be followed by a celebration of street food and culture, where vendors from across the five boroughs will sell churros, mangoes and icees.
Urban Justice Center’s (UJC) Street Vendor Project is organizing the rally and said in a statement street vendors were essential workers who ensured NYC’s hard-hit neighborhoods had access to fresh, affordable food throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Vendors don’t just belong on NYC postcards, they belong in NYC’s recovery plan too.”
Annually, street vendors generate around $71.2 million in local, state and federal taxes and contribute almost $293 million to the city’s economy. However, street vendors have been excluded from almost all COVID-19 related relief, because of immigration status, the informal nature of the businesses or continued discrimination, UJC said.
“Reform on NYC’s outdated and unjust street vending system is the least street vendors deserve, 37 years is long enough.”
In 1983, the City Council cut the number of street vendor permits by more than half, capping the number at roughly 4,000. Now, waiting lists for a permit can be as long as 25 years and an underground market has grown where permits are traded for as much as $25,000 (a 2-year renewable license from the City costs $200).
Thousands of vendors unable to get permits still sell food on the street, risking heavy fines and arrest. Intro 1116 has support from 30 City Council co-sponsors.
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