|Headquarters||4554 North Broadway (Chicago)
Chicago, Illinois 60640
StreetWise is a street magazine sold by people without homes or those at-risk for homelessness in Chicago. Topics covered depend on what is happening in Chicago at the time. In 2003, it had the largest readership of any street publication in the United States of America. Today, it remains among the largest street newspapers in the nation.
StreetWise contains art, poetry, and articles by vendors; as well as stories of local and national interest, particularly progressive issues.
In 1991 a group of Chicago business people joined the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to address the growing problem of street homelessness. In 1992, Judd Lofchie created StreetWise. About 200 vendors sell approximately 20,000 magazines weekly. The vendors buy the magazine for 90 cents each and sell for $2, keeping the profit.
StreetWise was headquartered at 1331 S. Michigan Ave until 2005. It relocated to its 1201 W. Lake St. headquarters until 2011 when it moved to its current headquarters at 4554 N. Broadway in Chicago.
Over time, the magazine has fallen victim to a slow economy. Foundation support had made up nearly half of StreetWise's $500,000 budget but is down 60 percent as of 2012. Ad revenues also are in decline and street sales have dropped 20 percent.
After publishers and board members announced on April 15, 2009 that declining revenues and foundation support might force a closure with 45 days, donations began pouring in. Before the end of the day, an influx of almost $41,000 helped the ailing publication halfway to its goal. Within a week, over $190,000 in donations were made, far exceeding the needed $75,000 to keep afloat.
During a February 2009 meeting, StreetWise's board of directors decided to fire Executive Director Michael Speer and began to discuss potential replacements. Bruce Crane was promoted to turn the company around. Crane reduced operation costs and increased ad sales. The organization went from $200,000 in debt to posting a net income of $1,168 last year under Crane.
Jim LoBianco, the former Commissioner for the Office of Homeless Services in Chicago, succeeded Bruce Crane as the magazine’s executive director on January 1, 2011.
In 2008, the format changed from the original tabloid-style newspaper to a magazine publication. This change was intended to increase readership and advertisement revenue.
In 2012, StreetWise began collaborating with The Night Ministry. The objective is to increase the assistance StreetWise provides to Chicago's most vulnerable individuals. StreetWise also launched the Neighbor Carts program. StreetWise vendors will sell fresh produce on Chicago streets as a part of this program.
- Harman, Danna (17 November 2003). "Read all about it: street papers flourish across the US". Retrieved 13 January 2009. Archived version
- "Who We Are And What We Do". Streetwise.org. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- Lydersen, Kari. "A Guide to Alternative Media in Chicago". Chicago Media Watch. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- Janega, James (16 April 2009). "StreetWise halfway to goal". Local News (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). Retrieved 22 April 2009.
- "Donors rescue StreetWise". Chicago, IL: ChicagoBreakingNews co-op. BreakingNews.com. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2009.
- Cabrera, Carlos. "Chicago homeless magazine wises up". Chicago Journal. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- Green, Norma Fay (1998). "Chicago's StreetWise at the Crossroads: A Case Study of a Newspaper to Empower the Homeless in the 1990s". Print Culture in a Diverse America. eds. James Philip Danky, Wayne A. Wiegand. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06699-5.