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Bronx street vendor loses home after paying high DSNY fines. Here's the change vendors want from NYC.

Bronx street vendor says he's living in a storage unit after he was hit with DSNY fines
Bronx street vendor says he's living in a storage unit after he was hit with DSNY fines 02:37

NEW YORK - Street vendors in the Bronx say they're being hit with more tickets and fines than they can count, and they're now calling on the city to make a change. 

Many vendors say they're trying to comply with regulations, but can't physically get a license. 

Mohamed Attia, who has worked for the Street Vendor Project since 2018, has shown CBS New York the mounds of tickets street vendors have received within the last year, especially in the Bronx.

Many streets vendors have told CBS New York they want to follow the city's regulations, but get caught because they don't have a license.

Thousands of New Yorkers waiting to obtain vending licenses

CBS New York's data team found vendors in the Bronx received 32% more tickets from the Department of Sanitation within the last year, even as tickets citywide decreased by 36%, according to city data.

The Street Vendor Project says more than 10,000 people are on the city's wait list for a vending license, which has been closed for nearly a decade. They say it's a crumbling system. 

"It's absolutely horrific to hear that we have somewhat completely eliminated someone's livelihood and they have to choose where they sleep, what they eat or paying the tickets," said City Council Majority Leader Amanda Farias.

Farias, who represents a district in the Bronx, says she and other elected officials are hoping to make changes soon.

"We need to fix the issue of the allowable permits and licenses that are there by lifting the cap," she said.

Street Vendor Project says although DSNY is the enforcing body, City Council is the only way for the system to get fixed. Right now, officials are speaking about a new bill that could lift the vendor licenses cap in a five-year process if it's passed.

Bronx street vendor loses home after trying to pay fines

For the last two months, street vendor Miguel Varela has been living in a cramped storage unit and sleeping in a chair.

"It's the first time in my life I hear situation like this ... It's about 220 square foot storage space with no bathroom, no heat, no access to water, no basic human needs can be met in that space," Attia said.  

This is his Varela's new reality after losing his housing from attempting to pay DSNY fines for vending illegally.

"I lost my apartment, and this is what everyone is going through here. I no longer have resources. I no longer have a livelihood because this is the livelihood of my job as a street vendor," Varela said in Spanish.

CBS New York's Shosh Bedrosian has been following Varela's story since January. He sells clothing on the street in Parkchester, the Bronx. He told CBS New York he once received four $250 from DSNY in less than a month, which is more money than what he makes in two days. His items have also been confiscated several times. Three months later, his home is now this storage unit.

"The system is not allowing to him to exist in a lawful way. The system is not allowing him the obtain the license that he needs," said Attia.

You can email Shosh with Bronx story ideas by CLICKING HERE

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