From the April 1 edition of Street Roots. (The April Fools edition was one of the most popular Street Roots ever published. We sold out of the newspaper in a week and ordered more. It’s on the streets for two more days – get your copy while it’s hot!)
The journalistic integrity of Street Roots is being questioned by government agencies after it did not publish several press releases on homelessness as news stories during the past year. One insider said the newspaper had lost its way and could no longer be trusted on the issue. “Our research shows that reports mandated and developed by the federal government for funding are accurate. Why question the facts?”
Spokespeople for local city governments, the Interagency Council on Homelessness and the National Alliance to End Homelessness have questioned Street Roots for not getting in line and reporting on the real issues of chronic homelessness.
“Look, we know that people who have lived on the streets for more than one year are chronically at fault for their circumstances,” says a burned-out administrator from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Our goal is to get these people off the streets as soon as possible. We’re not necessarily concerned with their civil rights, but we do think their presence on street corners is bad for business. Our research shows that we can without a doubt clear these folks off the streets in 10 years.”
“Will people we house have jobs or be contributing to society in a year? That’s not the issue,” says the National Alliance spokesperson. “Our goal is to have as many people in housing as possible before another million people hit the streets.”
Interagency Council on Homelessness representatives agree, saying the root causes of homelessness are really not the issue. “The issue is people who are homeless, and, frankly, we’re tired of Street Roots and other street papers around the country questioning this. We wish they would stop their whining.”
One local official working with the Housing Bureau says, “Our strategy at this point is to just ignore Street Roots.”
“If they (Street Roots) think that writing about the systematic causes of homelessness and poverty are something that’s going to help the city’s political will to end the crisis of homelessness, then they are sadly mistaken,” says one insider.
“Just because there’s an economic crisis developing and we live in a society without health care or affordable housing doesn’t mean that homelessness can’t be solved,” says one nonprofit head and 10-year plan advocate. “The bigger corporations and private developers already know that there’s no profit in building housing for poor people. Our strategy with private developers and landlords is to be nice to them and not require any kind of regulations – like taking Section 8 vouchers or forcing companies to develop affordable housing. We think after all the money is made – they’ll be receptive to our ideas. We will get affordable housing built in this city. Mark my words.”
Asked if Street Roots coverage on the subject even mattered, the 10-year proponent said, “The newspaper is cute. I read the poems and I love my local neighborhood vendor, but concerning news – there’s really no reason to believe anything they report. It’s foolishness. I think our numbers show this.”
By M.T. PRomises