Street Sense (newspaper)

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Street Sense
Type Bi-Weekly newspaper
Founded August 2003
Language English
Headquarters 1317 G St. NW, Washington, DC, 20005 at the Church of Epiphany
Official website

Street Sense is a Washington, D.C.-based 16-page bi-weekly street newspaper that was founded in 2003. Its mission is to raise public awareness on the issues of homelessness and poverty in the city and to create economic opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. The newspaper features writing and articles about homelessness and poverty, written by homeless or formerly homeless people and other volunteers.[1]


Street Sense began in August 2003 after two volunteers, Laura Thompson Osuri and Ted Henson,[2] approached the National Coalition for the Homeless on separate occasions about starting a street newspaper in Washington, D.C.

After bringing together a core of dedicated volunteers and vendors, Street Sense published its first issue in November 2003 with a print run of 5,000 copies.[3] For the next three years, the paper published consistently on a monthly basis and greatly expanded its circulation and vendor network.

For the first year, Street Sense operated as a project of the National Coalition for the Homeless, but in October 2004, the organization incorporated and moved into its own office space.[4]

In March 2005, Street Sense received 501(c)(3) status, becoming an independent non-profit organization.

In October 2005, Street Sense formed a full board of directors, and in November that year, the organization hired its first employee, co-founder Laura Thompson Osuri, as a full-time executive director.

A year later in November 2006, the organization hired its first vendor coordinator, Jesse Smith, Jr.

In February 2007, the paper started publishing twice a month as the network of vendors expanded to more than 50 homeless men and women. As of March 2010 the paper has approximately 100 active vendors.[5]


With a monthly distribution of about 30,000 issues,[6][7] Street Sense is always sold by individual "vendors" who are in poverty. Each vendor pays US$0.50 for a paper to cover publishing costs, and in turn, sells each paper for a $2 "suggested donation".[8] Customers may choose to pay more than $2 for a paper as a charitable donation. Vendors make about $45 a day selling the paper.[9][10]

Vendors must wear a Street Sense-issued identification badge while selling papers. Many also wear a yellow vest with the Street Sense logo.

All vendors must agree to the following code of conduct:

1. Street Sense will be distributed for a voluntary donation of $2.00. I agree not to ask for more than a dollar or solicit donations for Street Sense by any other means.

2. I will only purchase the paper from Street Sense staff and will not sell papers to other vendors.

3. I agree to treat all others—customers, staff, other vendors—respectfully, and I will not "hard sell," threaten or pressure customers.

4. I agree to stay off private property when selling Street Sense.

5. I understand that I am not a legal employee of Street Sense but a contracted worker responsible for my own well-being and income.

6. I agree to sell no additional goods or products when selling the paper.

7. I will not sell Street Sense under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

8. I agree to stay one block away from another vendor.

9. I understand that my badge and vest are the property of Street Sense and will not deface them. I will present my badge when purchasing the papers and display my badge when selling papers.

10. I understand that Street Sense strives to be a paper that covers homelessness and poverty issues while providing a source of income for the homeless. I will try to help in this effort and spread the word.[11]


Street Sense is a member of the North American Street Newspaper Association and the International Network of Street Papers.


External links[edit]