It’s time for some truth telling. Street Roots is in a period of hard challenges in the months to come. Three years ago, the organization set out on an aggressive growth strategy that would boost the vendor program, improve and broaden the content of the newspaper and grow the organization in a way that would create systemic change in the community. Since 2006, the organization has done exactly that.
The vendor program for people experiencing homelessness and poverty has grown. The quality of the newspaper, specifically the journalism and a diverse range of community voices, including those on the streets, is at an all-time high. The Rose City Resource Guide transformed from a 4-page insert in the newspaper to a 104-page, 4×4 pocket guide and a state of the art web site connecting services to people most in need. The organization has led successful campaigns to secure homeless services in Portland and throughout the region, helped families maintain Section 8 housing and changed the conversation around homelessness and poverty.
Now we find ourselves at a crossroads. The organization is set to move into a new location in November in outer East Portland to expand the benefits of the vendor program to a growing homeless and low-income population on the eastside. We are working on developing the technology to bring the streets to the World Wide Web and are working to create a more timely and effective publication for readers and vendors alike.
All of this comes at a time when the economy has plummeted and the newspaper industry as a whole struggles to develop sustainable funding streams. It also comes at a time when homelessness is rapidly increasing and funding is drastically decreasing from foundations.
Street Roots is not a conventional social-service agency, so we don’t receive big government contracts or grants. Most foundations don’t fund media projects. While we pride ourselves on being outside the box, it’s true that often times we find ourselves on the outside looking in when it comes to institutional support for our programs.
We need your help now! Street Roots relies on individual donors and supporters in the community to survive. In theory, regular Street Roots readers give at least $26 dollars a year to their local neighborhood vendor. This act goes to support individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty with their day-to-day survival and increasing people’s quality of life. It also creates an atmosphere of relationship building across class lines that you simply aren’t going to find anywhere else in the city. We believe in believing in people, and your support and readership makes that a reality.
Saying that, Street Roots can’t support vendors and the relationships built with the community without having organizational support. It takes money to print and maintain a newspaper. And without a newspaper, there’s no vendor program. Both programs are tied at the hip. It also takes money to maintain a day-to-day space for vendors and people on the streets to gather in a safe environment and to have the supplies needed to support these efforts.
Street Roots needs to raise a humbling $15,000 in July and August to keep the train on the tracks. We’re not sounding alarm bells, but we are saying out loud that without your support we won’t be able to maintain at the level we are today in the coming months.
Your donation this summer will help Street Roots to:
– Get the news out to 10,000 readers every other week – covering the issues that affect real people every day
– Provide an income for 80 men and women experiencing homelessness and poverty in Portland
– Lead strategic campaigns that improve the quality of life for residents with the fewest resources
– Connect thousands of low-income residents with vital services through the Rose City Resource
Street Roots always relies on community support. This summer it’s more important than ever. Thanks for giving what you can.
Please give today! You can also make a check or money order out to Street Roots, 211 NW Davis, Portland, Oregon 97209.
Israel Bayer, Executive Director