As the COVID-19 crisis drags on and financial relief from the federal government continues to stall, people are starting to understand that their individual purchases matter more than ever. A refrain that’s gaining ground is spend your money at places you want to survive the pandemic. And New Yorkers may understand that sentiment better than anyone else, as New York magazine recently illustrated in a feature on all the local gems, old haunts and institutions that have closed since March.
One essential NYC outpost that desperately needs COVID relief? The city’s thousands of coffee and hot dog carts, and the street vendors who run them. As you can imagine for a business that thrives on busy street traffic, earnings for these vendors have dipped as much as 90% during the pandemic. Now, a lifeline is being given to the sidewalk slingers, not from the city or the state, but from Morgan Stanley.
As Bloomberg reports, “the bank is giving $2 million to 2,000 vendors in coordination with the Robin Hood foundation, which is contributing $375,000 more and helping distribute the cash.” The financial assistance is also being dispersed in partnership with The Street Vendor Project, a membership organization dedicated to advocating for vendor rights that’s part of the nonprofit Urban Justice Center.
The reason Morgan Stanley decided to step up here was at least partly personal. “With our headquarters in Times Square, many of our employees rely on these vendors for their morning coffee or a quick lunch,” said James Gorman, chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, in a press release. “Morgan Stanley is committed to supporting those in our community that support us on a daily basis as they face unprecedented economic hardship.”
What about previous governmental relief efforts, haven’t those helped? According to Bloomberg, “about three-fourths of vendors were excluded from disaster relief or unemployment insurance, often because of their immigration status or the informal nature of their work,” so Morgan Stanley is filling a gap here.
We’ll toast an Anthora cup to that.
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