Street Sense, the newspaper sold around Washington by homeless vendors, has been an institution
since its first issue came out in November 2003. Almost a decade later, the biweekly
has raised its suggested purchase price to $2.
The paper, founded by Laura Thompson Osuri and Ted Henson to help raise awareness
about the plight of homelessness while also giving homeless people a source of income,
is now in its tenth year of operation. New executive director
Brian Carome, who took over from Abby Strunk in November of 2011*, says both the nonprofit side and the
vendors have been struggling with cost increases. In 2005, the cost of printing a
single issue was $1,343. In 2012 the price was $3,256. Vendors used to make 75 cents
from each $1 issue sold, but after publication costs increased, vendor share was reduced
to 65 cents in 2009.
Carome says vendors have been “very involved” in discussions over raising the cost
of the paper, and that readers have also been consulted in discussions on the paper’s
Facebook page. “We expect that circulation might drop immediately after the price
goes up, but our aim is to help the vendors make more overall,” he says. Under current
pricing, vendors will keep $1.50 from each issue they sell—more than a 100 percent
The new price puts
Street Sense on par with Chicago’s
StreetWise, which also sells for $2 an issue (vendors pay 90 cents for each copy). Seattle’s
Real Change, a street newspaper with almost double the circulation of
Street Sense, remains $1.
Carome has other plans to expand
StreetSense’s mission in 2013, including an internship program to help homeless youth train in
journalism and graphic design, and a new office in Arlington to help grow the paper’s reach outside of DC.
*This post has been updated from a previous version.