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The street vendors of Sixth Ave each have a unique story about how they came to be vendors Many of them say it was a choice they made some ended up there because of drugs or the inability to find work whatever the case their life is not an easy one The people making lives on Sixth Ave depend on each other All of them are black males with the exception of one black woman named Alice Most spent time in jail for crimes committed during their crack use in the 1980s They range in age from mid-thirties to their late fifties About a third are Vietnam veterans and a few say they are HIV positive The rest would rather not know But there are the exceptional few like Hakim who was a college graduate and worked in corporate America for a law firm doing legal proofreading He was let go from that job after an employee review He felt that street vendors had found a way to subsist in New York without buying into the corporate mindset He felt as a vendor of black books he would have work that was meaningful and would sustain him economically and intellectually The book vendors make decent money usually charging about five to ten dollars per book bringing in anywhere from 70 to 150 dollars a day Hakim makes enough to have his own apartment in New Jersey but many others are homeless This they say is a choice Three of the men admit to receiving public assistance and Medicare Like many welfare recipients they do not live on welfare alone and vending written matter or scavenged items helps them with their extra expenses These extra expenses may include items like drugs liquor or just regular day to day items Although three of the men admitted to receiving assistance seven men indicated that they were on welfare while working the streets at one point or
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