Street vendors say business is hurting due to coronavirus pandemic

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Many food street vendors are still up and running but say their businesses are hurting as people are quarantined and can't buy their food.

"We need people to come out but they cannot come out because it's really dangerous for them,” says street vendor Mahmoud Musleh. 

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Mushleh has run the Middle Eastern, Hilal food cart on 86th Street and Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge for 12 years and he says typically he served 400 people a day. Now, he estimates it's about 50.

 

He says street vendors need customers to keep business alive and to support their families but that they also know people need to keep themselves safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

For many, that means not venturing outside. "Day after day things are getting a lot worse, we've heard from some vendors that some lost business from up to 50% and 80%," said Musleh. 

Mohamad Attia, executive Director of the Street Vendor Project at Urban Justice Center, says his team has been reaching out to government officials for some relief for the street vendors. 

He says they want grants for vendors, freezes on rent, mortgages and utility bills, for all NYPD and Health Department enforcement to be put on hold, and for all fines issued to be put on hold as well. 

 "Now the message is for our elected officials to step up and support our most vulnerable communities,” said Attia. 

News 12 reached out to Small Business Services who say street vendors who are on documented payroll for their business are eligible for the Employee Retention Grant, which could cover 40% of payroll costs for two months - up to $27,000.

Attia says many vendors he’s spoken to are planning on shutting down because they can’t cover their expenses.

Musleh says they are planning on shutting down and staying home Friday or Saturday.

 

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