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Street vendors in New York fight to get their work legalized amid the pandemic | Univision 41 New York WXTV

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The streets of New York City have become the only option for thousands of unemployed who found a livelihood in street vending. New and old vendors now share not only the platforms, but also a whole series of problems that the city has not solved for decades.

There were an estimated 22,000 street vendors in the city before the pandemic. Most of them work illegally, since since the 1980s there are only fewer than 4,000 permits to sell on the streets.

“Every day they would arrest me for selling tamales,” says María, who has been selling typical Ecuadorian food for 34 years in the same place. She was able to start working more easily when she got a black market rented permit for which she pays $ 15,000 every two years.

This November marked a year since the arrest of a churro vendor on the Brooklyn subway, which caused outrage among New Yorkers. In that time, the city has made several promises to these vendors, which they claim have not been kept.

“So far they have not done anything, just now the police are harassing us more,” says Sonia Pérez.

The mayor’s office did not respond to Univision News 41 when the NYPD will no longer be responsible for applying the rules to these vendors, who are still subject to fines from six other city agencies.

Intro 1116, legislation that has been in the city council for years and that seeks to create more permits and remove the police from the responsibility of applying the law to these street vendors, would be one of the few options that these workers have to regularize your employment status.

“What we are asking with this legislation is that a new agency be created exclusively dedicated to this industry,” explains Stella Becerril, of the Street Vendor Project.

Sen. Jessica Ramos announced that she will reintroduce a bill in the state legislature next year that would remove the restriction on the number of permits. “We have more street vendors who are making an honest living and we should offer them the necessary resources, not only to regularize their business, but to make sure that their sales system is much more in line with the use of the street, for example,” he said. .

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However, the legislator points out that these bills have clashed with the lobby of the million dollar real estate companies, who don’t want these sellers on the streets.

Becerril emphasizes: “The problem is not the people who are trying to survive this crisis, the problem is that the government at the city, state, federal level has done a lousy job to help people.”

Look also

With blows, community defends street vendor from alleged street extortionist

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