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LA Street Vendors To Receive Boost From $5 Million Grant

A man prepares food inside of a food truck, holding up a spatula and metal bowl. A man behind him takes a customer's order through the truck's window.
Justin Tulus (left) prepares food for customers as Tom Tulus (right) takes customer's order at their truck StopBye Cafe on March 28, 2021.
(Manuel Valladares/LAist)
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Los Angeles street vendors will receive assistance for legal counsel, loans, business advice and other aid through a $5 million grant to be administered by a partnership of local organizations.

The grant from JPMorgan Chase to the Open Air Economy Collaborative. will be spread out over three years. It will fund public counsel, low-interest loans, financial literacy assistance, and more to vendors and micro-entrepreneurs.

Rudy Espinoza, executive director of Inclusive Action for the City, a part of the collaboration, says street vendors are essential to the local economy, but they have difficulty accessing capital. He said the grant will ultimately help out Black and Latina women, who he says are the majority of street vendors in L.A.

"They have to rely on payday lenders and other sorts of usurious lenders to get capital for their businesses," Espinoza said. "This JPMorgan Chase gift is really important because it's going to invest in that infrastructure."

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In the era of COVID-19, Espinoza says street vendors have become even more critical because it's safer for customers need to gather outside, and they have become an integral part of so many communities.

Still, street vendors face an uphill battle when applying for the proper permits because of stringent regulations set by local health departments that, if violated, can lead to fines and confiscation of their equipment.

Espinoza said the grant will help 500 street vendors obtain the proper selling permits and assist 350 Black and Latina entrepreneurs in getting low-cost loans.

"We are also really unapologetic...this is really about Black and Latina [women]," he said. "The majority of street vendors out here we see are women and heads of household, and they need we are really focused on supporting them."

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