Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Sense in "Street Sense"

Out of curiosity, I picked up a copy of Street Sense this week. Until now I'd been walking by vendors near Whole Foods and the Dupont Metro almost daily. I'm happy to share that it appears to be a legitimate paper backed by a great pro-homeless organization. (Admittedly, I had originally expected to deride the publication as a load of bunk, and my motivation for purchasing Street Sense was mostly to provide fodder for this blog.)

What's very cool about Street Sense is that 75 cents on the dollar goes to the person selling it. All of the vendors are indeed homeless who work as independent contractors, and some also serve as contributing writers. I was very pleased to learn that this paper has provided a more dignified alternative to panhandling as a source of income for those on the streets.

The organization itself is an above-board 501 (c)3. (I haven't conducted any serious investigative journalism, but I have confirmed that they are listed by the IRS as a non-profit.) Page two of the paper gives a full disclosure of their donors, vendor code of conduct, board members, contact information, mission, and editorial policy. Better still, the inside back page is used for a "Community Service Index" of shelters, food banks, and other services for the homeless.

The content mostly relates to issues of concern for the homeless and low-income communities such as the location for the new Central Union Mission and Fenty's poverty agenda. For those who are not personally involved in issues of social justice or homeless advocacy, it could be a little overwhelming to regularly read the biweekly paper. But perhaps it could be an occasional alternative to passing time on the Metro with the Express.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Really good to know. I've always passed up the chance to purchase Street Sense. Now that I know that most of the profits actually help the homeless I'll be more inclined to buy them.