Rain or shine, New York City’s street vendors keep the city running. With a hot coffee here, a churro there, and an affordable and delicious lunch wherever you need it, street vendors are a central part of the cultural fabric of New York City.

But between a decrease in customers due to stay-at-home orders, an increase in permit costs and rental fees, reported losses of 70-90%, and no help from government programs, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on street vendors across the nation.

While street vendors contribute an estimated $293 million to the city’s economy, the informal nature of their work bars them from government disaster relief and unemployment insurance. As a result, these local businesses are in need of a lifeline.

To address this devastating gap and help street vendors, Morgan Stanley and Robin Hood have come together to provide financial assistance to 2,000 street vendors across New York City in partnership with The Street Vendor Project. This funding will provide more than 2,000 NYC vendors upwards of $1,000 each in cash assistance.

Morgan Stanley has made a $2 million commitment to this effort. Robin Hood is donating an additional $375,000 and assisting with grant management and cash distribution to reach the target population.

“With our headquarters in Times Square, many of our employees rely on these vendors for their morning coffee or a quick lunch. Morgan Stanley is committed to supporting those in our community that support us on a daily basis as they face unprecedented economic hardship,” said James Gorman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley. “We are proud to work with Robin Hood and the Street Vendor Project to provide economic relief to vendors during a critically difficult time and encourage others to join us in this important mission.”

There are approximately 20,000 New Yorkers who sell food and merchandise from the streets and sidewalks of New York City, many of whom are people of color, military veterans, and low-wage immigrant workers.

“Over the last year, as the pandemic intensified racial and economic disparities, street vendors have been forced to face the crisis alone, finding themselves ineligible for benefits as a result of their immigration status and the very nature of their work,” said Wes Moore, Chief Executive Officer of Robin Hood.

“Vendors come from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in every aspect. They have lost the majority of their income during the pandemic, and despite their critical role in our city’s culture and economy, every level of government has left them out in the cold without financial relief,” said Mohamed Attia, Director, Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center. “We are so thankful to Morgan Stanley and Robin Hood for this generous donation to help over 2,000 of our City’s smallest businesses recover.”

To donate visit robinhood.org/supportstreetvendors

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