Reginald Black, a vendor and member of our digital marketing training program. Photo by Nando Alvarez

Dear supporters, readers, community members, and friends,

Throughout the current public health pandemic, Street Sense Media has worked to support our vendors with continued services and the opportunity to earn income. We know that crises fall the hardest on the most vulnerable members of our community, and we are compelled to continue serving our vendors when they need us most.

Our top priority is, and must always be, the health and safety of all. In light of the rapidly-changing situation with the spread of COVID-19, new restrictions on D.C. businesses and organizations, and concerns for the safety of all Street Sense Media vendors and Street Sense customers, we have made the decision to immediately suspend the print publication and distribution of our newspaper. For the duration of the immediate health pandemic, Street Sense will only be published online.

We know that this decision is the right one, but it is not easy. It’s one of the most difficult choices I’ve made during my time at Street Sense Media. This is the first time in nearly 17 years that we will not print an edition of the newspaper as scheduled. We take pride in the journalism we produce in partnership with our vendors who write for the paper.

For many of our vendors, selling Street Sense is their only source of income. It helps them satisfy their most basic human needs. For others, selling Street Sense allows them to make rent payments on apartments secured after years of homelessness, to supplement income from minimum wage jobs, or to help support family members.

To help maintain some of our vendors’ income, we need your immediate help. We’re asking our readers and supporters to continue making direct payments to vendors through our mobile app, while you continue to read the newspaper online. These payments reach our vendors directly. Each day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., they can claim their payments, in cash, at our offices (following appropriate precautionary measures for social distancing, etc.).

With the implementation of strict safety protocol, our offices will remain open. Vendors will be able to come to Street Sense Media to rest inside, use our restrooms, wash their hands, use computers—including to work on news or feature stories they hope to publish in the newspaper—and meet with case management staff. Our case management staff will be on call to help people access the services they need, including emergency healthcare. To help fill immediate needs amid the widespread closure of business and service provider, we are also asking for donations of gift cards to local grocery stores and pharmacies. Gift cards can be mailed to Street Sense Media’s offices at 1317 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. They will be distributed to those in dire need of food or medicine.

In summary, we hope that you read a digital copy of our new issue April 1, make a payment to your regular vendor, consider donating a gift card, or make a donation directly to Street Sense Media during this difficult time. Any of these actions will make an enormous difference for people in need.

We also hope that you and your families continue to stay safe and healthy, and that you find some light and hope in the compassion of others during this crisis. We’re grateful for you.

Sincerely,

Brian Carome
CEO