By Brian Carome
With this issue, Street Sense commences its tenth year of publication. We will be celebrating our anniversary year in a variety of ways aimed at both broadening our mission impact and strengthening the organization that publishes and distributes the paper. We will be republishing articles from our archives, both in the paper and via Facebook. We will be sponsoring public forums where experts on the issues that define homelessness will debate the history of the problem and try and map its solutions. And in the fall of 2013, we will invite all of you to join us at a gala event to celebrate our Decade of Impact.
In 2003, Street Sense founders Laura Thompson Osuri and Ted Henson introduced the two-pronged mission of the paper to readers with these words: “Homelessness in Washington, D.C., is at its highest level since 1996 and is increasing, yet the attention the media is giving the issue remains very low and inconsistent. As a result, the main objective of Street Sense is to make the public more aware of issues related to poverty and homelessness. Its secondary goal is to provide homeless people with an economically beneficial opportunity and forum to be published.” (Street Sense Mission Statement and Editorial Policy, Street Sense, Volume 1–Issue 2, December 15th, 2003)
Back in 2003, no one could accurately predict the full effect that the digital revolution would have on print journalism. That said, it was not seen as the most opportune time to launch a new print media outlet. I imagine as they began editing what would become Volume 1–Issue 1, Osuri and Henson had to wonder if their passionate dream was sustainable. The first issue had a print run of 5,000 copies and was distributed by approximately 25 vendors. They must have known something. This issue, Volume 10–Issue 1, has a print run of 16,000 and is being distributed by over 100 vendors.
Those of us who work at Street Sense know with certainty that homelessness can end. We have had the great privilege of having front row seats to the journey that countless vendors have made from shelter and street to home. We also have heard and read the testimonies of readers who have been inspired, moved, motivated and altered both by what they have read in the paper and by the conversations that they have had with individual vendors. These “crossroad conversations” between the housed and they houseless are an opportunity for us to grow stronger as a community, united by the realization that our alikeness is greater than our differences.
Oddly, in addition to pride, there is discouragement to be found in the start of our tenth year. While some progress in the effort to end homelessness has been made, especially for veterans and persons suffering from chronic mental illness, far too many of our neighbors are homeless. Perhaps most shocking of all is the way that homelessness has grown for families. Too many small children are being raised in shelters, abandoned buildings, and outside.
Looking forward, Street Sense will continue to bring you these stories while also providing persons who are homeless a means of earning an income and a path beyond homelessness. Whether you are a first time reader, or have been with us since the beginning, we hope you will continue to let Street Sense impact your life and our community.