Since 2003, Street Sense Media has been changing the story of homelessness – literally. Its biweekly street newspaper features articles and creative writing about poverty and injustice, authored by homeless and formerly homeless individuals (as well as staff and journalists-in-training), who earn an average of $780 per month selling the newspaper in their communities. At the Media Center, 130 men and women experiencing homelessness participate in free weekly workshops in writing, theater, photography, graphic design, digital marketing, and more. Through a stepping-stone model of increasing responsibility and rigor, participants gradually work toward gainful employment while also building key life skills: setting goals, managing relationships, and making responsible decisions. On-site case managers expedite pathways towards housing and healthcare – and help pave the way toward self-sufficiency. Staff and volunteers view participants not as beneficiaries, but as talented, hard-working colleagues whose voices should be heard.
Throughout the pandemic, Street Sense Media has served as a vital resource for people experiencing homelessness in Washington, DC. It has remained open throughout the pandemic to provide safe places for unhoused adults to relax, find community, and work toward better futures. After a period of digital-only publication, the Street Sense newspaper is back in print, and vendors have returned to selling – with new safety measures in place.