Hawking a monthly newspaper written by homeless and formerly homeless may seem to offer an unlikely path to stability, but for Jerry Andreasen, and his wife, Karren, both 65, selling copies of The Contributor at $1 a copy has helped them move from a tent by the river to renting a $100-a-week room in a North Nashville house. A carpenter and handyman, Jerry Andreasen had lost everything after he had a heart attack, reports the Tennessean, in a feature report today.
In Washington, DC a young woman set a goal in 2003 of helping homeless people in the nation’s capital. With a partner, founded Street Sense, the weekly newspaper that now sells 12,000 copies every two weeks and has been a source of income and pride for hundreds of homeless men and women.
200 homeless people in the Washington area earn money from the paper. Before sunrise every other Wednesday, you can find Laura organizing her team of vendors, homeless people who purchase the biweekly editions for .25 each, which covers the cost of production, and take to the streets selling the paper for $1.
Writing an article or poem, submitting a photograph, or unloading stacks of newspapers at the office earns the contributor free papers to sell.
Unlike mainstream papers which are in decline, Andy Freeze, executive director of the North American Street Newspaper Association, said circulation is rising among their members, about 25 street newspapers in 10 cities acrpss the U.S. and Canada.
“When I was thinking about this street newspaper idea I also thought should I join the Peace Corps or things like that there are all these people right here in front of us that need help,” Osuri said. “Why don’t I help these people, not someone far out in Africa, and that sort of thing.”
“I can imagine for somebody who has been on their luck for so long and suddenly be published in a paper that thousands of people are reading, must be great for their self esteem and ego,” she said.
Carol Cummings volunteers as the office manager. “The best part of working at Street Sense is the friends that I got to meet.” She says, “I meet so many people from all over the country that are homeless and the end up in DC.”
Volunteers do most of the work, but after four years Street Sense finally made enough money to pay Laura a salary.
People here say the newspaper Laura Thompson Osuri founded not only helps the homeless achieve a measure of financial freedom, but it also provides a badly needed sense of community. Laura says she hopes to shatter the negative stereotypes about homeless people.
“Most people think that there is stereotype that you are homeless because you are stupid, you are uneducated, you can’t get a job, you can’t get housing, that sort of thing. That’s really not the case,” Osuri states. “I mean homeless people are just like you and me, something happened and they ended up on the streets.”
With income Laura’s newspaper has provided, more than 20 homeless people have found housing and more than 30 have received full time or part time job offers while selling the paper. (VOA News, March, 2009)
(Note, source material has been removed by the source)