Vulnerable workers who have fallen through the cracks as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the country. Although government measures have offered a bit of relief to people with traditional employment, some programs are less accessible to those working gig jobs, working under the table, or immigrants who don’t qualify for federal aid. Street vendors are among those reeling from losses, as cities limit permits and foot traffic wanes outside.
But in Los Angeles, they’re getting some help, thanks to the local efforts of Street Vendor Emergency Fund. As Ludwig Hurtado at NBC Latino reports this week, the fund—which is a joint partnership between Inclusive Action for the City, East LA Community Corporation and Public Counsel—is providing MasterCards preloaded with $400 to help street vendors pay for basic necessities like rent as they navigate the loss of income from the pandemic.
The difficulties for vendor communities come at an already fraught time: After California decriminalized street vending a few years ago, Los Angeles tried to figure out new permit requirements. They gave some vendors until June to continue their businesses. Now, things are likely stalled for vendors who were still waiting on permit updates, and those who do have them are hoping to work as long as they can.
“Street vending has always been a lifeline for entrepreneurs that can’t find a sufficient job in other places. So, street vending is not only an important part of the cultural DNA of our city, but it’s an important piece of the way that folks make a living and take care of their families,” said Rudy Espinoza, executive director of Inclusive Action for the City.
The United Way Pandemic Relief Fund gave $50,000 in initial seed money to the fund. They’ve also gotten support from several other foundations around the country. You can donate here.