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Bottom Line Conversations: Street Vendors Fighting for a City That Works for Everyone

Oscar Perry Abello talks to Mohammed Attia, Director of the Street Vendor Project and Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez Deputy Director of the Street Vendor Project about their years as a street vendor, and how vendors have used the power of community organizing to fight for change that benefits everyone in New York City, starting with the most vulnerable.

December 7, 2021

Workers in the gig economy often thrive or struggle at the whim of large corporations or government entities. But in 2021 we saw several examples of gig workers — among them ride-hail drivers and food delivery workers — who assembled formally and informally to carve out more equitable employment or ownership models and keep money in their local economies.

In that vein, street vendors in New York City are using the power of community organizing to fight for change that benefits everyone, starting with the most vulnerable. And that deep kind of alliance is among our Solutions of the Year.

Join us for a special production of The Bottom Line Conversations as Next City’s senior economics correspondent Oscar Perry Abello talks to Mohammed Attia, director of the Street Vendor Project.

On a small scale, the Street Vendor Project is helping vendors establish community agreements with rules around things like managing trash. They might help designate spots for each vendor and even elect representatives who resolve disputes, facilitate monthly vendor meetings, and coordinate with other groups. But vulnerable merchants aren’t the only people who feel ostracized by a city’s antagonism. What can we learn from their experiences as street vendors find power by banding together?



Oscar Perry Abello
Senior Economics Correspondent, Next City

Oscar Perry Abello covers policies, programs and businesses that seek to address historical disparities in access to jobs, capital and space for economic use in cities. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015- 2016. Since 2011, Abello has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, equitable and inclusive economies, affordable housing, fair housing and more. He holds a bachelor’s in economics from Villanova University.



Speaker: Mohammed Attia
Director, Street Vendor Project

Mohamed Attia immigrated to the U.S. from Alexandria, Egypt in 2008. He worked as a vendor for nearly 10 years selling hot dogs, halal chicken and rice, and smoothies. He became a member of the Street Vendor Project in 2012, was elected to the Leadership Board, and served on the board until 2018, when he joined SVP's staff.


Speaker: Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez
Deputy Director, Street Vendor Project

Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez is SVP's Deputy Director. She is a Colombian-American who brings experience in nonprofit management, policy development, restaurants, and community organizing within immigrant communities to the team. She has held positions at NYC Small Business Services, Community Service Society, and Fundación Corona. She holds a Masters in International Affairs and Urban Social Policy from Columbia University. 

This webinar is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. The Bottom Line is made possible with support from Citi.

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