FRESNO, California (KGPE) – It’s been eight months since Lorenzo Perez, a Fresno street vendor, was gunned down in broad daylight while doing his job. Since then, the city vowed to help and protect these workers, but some say they’re still waiting on local leaders to provide all the help that was promised.
“Many of our colleagues don’t have faith in the city,” said Miguel Lopez, president of the Street Vendor Association.
The group was formed shortly after Perez’s murder. Since then, the city has hosted two workshops to help mobile vendors get proper permits, and answer other questions. Council President Luis Chavez said about 80 workers have filed for city permits.
Vendors said they’re grateful for the help in the past.
“We do feel safer, we feel like we can trust law enforcement,” shared Miguel Angel Ruiz, another food vendor in Fresno.
But he’s concerned because the city has not hosted another workshop in months, and said there is a lack of communication on the status of other projects.
One of them includes the revitalization of a warehouse on H Street, which is set to become a one-stop shop for vendors to meet and safely prepare food.
“We allocated $2 million for the renovation of that facility,” said councilmember Chavez, adding that he’s been working with nonprofits to ready the place. “Cultiva la Salud has actually already secured donations on equipment for the kitchen. But the building itself, I don’t anticipate for it to be ready until the spring.”
Chavez said they’re also working on finalizing the mid-year budget, which includes Covid relief money from the federal government.
“The City of Fresno is going to receive $177 million in the next two years. One of the priorities we already outlined was assistance to our mobile food vendors.”
The District 5 representative said workers with proper permits can qualify for $1.3 millions available to small business owners in Fresno, pending budget approval. The city council is expected to discuss this at its December 9th meeting.
“It’ll be $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 grants for those folks,” he said.
“That would be of great help,” said Lopez, who is a father of three and said selling food and snacks on the street is his only source of income.
In recent weeks, vendors have also received care packages with pepper spray and PPE.
However, Lopez and Ruiz are hoping the city can also provide training and more informational sessions to new vendors.
“We want to bring them out of the shadows,” said Chavez.
If you’re a street vendor interested in joining the association, contact Miguel Lopez: 559-360-4411 or Miguel Angel Ruiz: 559-709-2459.
You can also contact Luis Chavez’s office: 559-621-7854