Andrew Hogan, Street Roots director, addresses Rotarians on community outreach
"Value of our shared humanity"--that's what links Portland Rotary and Street Roots, the weekly non-profit newspaper that serves on-the-street vendors with an income from individual copy sales.
Andrew Hogan, executive director, championed the partnership with Pearl members which has included serving meals to sales-people both before the pandemic and now during Covid-19 restrictions (Sept. 28).
One of 120 street papers in the USA and far beyond, Street Roots allots vendors 75c of the $1.00 cover price. It's an important revenue stream, he said, noting that slightly over half of the sales force is unhoused.
Although Rotarians may mostly recognize the organization by supporting the vendors selling outside businesses and on street corners, Andrew stressed that the effort goes far beyond the weekly printed newspaper.
When Covid led to suspension of sales, a fundraising effort led staff to efforts like visiting homeless camps and delivering vaccine advice.
Rotarians were also apprised of the MoJo program, an introductory journalism course for vendors interested in journaling life on the streets and reporting on issues of interest to the houseless community. (The latest edition has a major story on the impact of homeless camp sweeps--leaving men, women and children to "navigate a profoundly broken system lacking oversight, accountability and transparency").
Hogan reported that 50% of Street Roots vendors are age 55 and over. Among them are people who have entered into residential programs. "We create this income-generating opportunity...and other opportunities open because of this."