Morgan Stanley and Robin Hood today announced a commitment to provide financial assistance to 2,000 street vendors across New York City in partnership with The Street Vendor Project. Street vendors have reported losses of 70-90% of their earnings during COVID, and many have been excluded from relief programs.1 To address this gap and help vendors pay rent, afford utilities and purchase food, 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 and Robin Hood is donating an additional $375,000 and will be assisting with grant management and cash distribution to reach the target population.
There are approximately 20,000 New Yorkers who sell food and merchandise from the streets and sidewalks of New York City, most of whom are women of color, military veterans and low-wage immigrant workers. And while street vendors contribute an estimated $293 million to the city’s economy, the informal nature of their work or immigration status has barred them from government disaster relief and unemployment insurance. As a result, 76% of vendors ‒ grappling with fines, garage rental costs, and vending permit increases ‒ have been forced to balance their lives and livelihood by borrowing money, drawing down savings, seeking financial help from friends and family, or pawning assets according to a survey conducted in June and September 2020 by Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing + Organizing (WIEGO) in collaboration with the Street Vendor Project.
To learn more about this initiative and to support NYC’s street cart vendors, please click here.
“New York City street vendors are a central part of the cultural fabric of New York City. 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.”
"Street Vendors are central to New York's cultural and economic identity, but COVID-19 has dealt them a serious blow. 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. “New York City street vendors are at the precipice with no safety net to catch them. We must do all we can to help them fight to weather this pandemic – now and for the long haul."
"Rain or shine, New York City's street vendors keep our city running with a hot coffee, a churro or an affordable and nutritious Halal lunch. 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."
Nearly one in four vendors report having household members with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms, with catastrophic results for the entire family. While vendors have slowly returned to the streets since June, the steep decline in commuters, office workers and tourists has meant a correspondingly steep decline in business for the vendors. Now, as cases spike and the weather turns, Morgan Stanley and Robin Hood intend to expand the breadth and depth of the program through a concerted campaign calling on corporations and individuals to expand the impact of this initiative.
About Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.
About Robin Hood
Founded in 1988, Robin Hood finds, fuels, and creates the most impactful and scalable solutions lifting families out of poverty in New York City, with models that can work across the country. This year, Robin Hood will invest nearly $200 million to provide COVID relief, legal services, housing, meals, workforce development training, education programs and more to families in poverty in New York City. Robin Hood tracks every program with rigorous metrics, and since Robin Hood’s Board of Directors covers all overhead, 100 percent of every donation goes directly to the poverty fight. Learn more at robinhood.org.
About Street Vendor Project
The Street Vendor Project (SVP) is a grassroots membership-based organization working to defend the rights and improve the working conditions of the approximately 20,000 people who sell food and merchandise on the streets of New York City. We believe in the importance of vending as a source of income for immigrants and other New Yorkers who may lack access to more formal employment opportunities. SVP, founded in 2001, strives to improve and expand vending as a viable, lawful employment option for immigrants and other entrepreneurs, and to increase public appreciation of how central vending is to our city’s culture and economy. Through direct legal representation, small business training, organizing support, leadership development, and strategic legislative advocacy, SVP builds power and community among vendors. The Street Vendor Project is part of the Urban Justice Center, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation and advocacy to various marginalized groups of New Yorkers. To learn more about The Street Vendor Project mission and efforts, please visit: www.streetvendor.org.
1 WIEGO (Forthcoming) Covid-19 Crisis and the Informal Economy: New York City. Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing and Street Vendor Project
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