Street Sense is currently looking for a part-time Vendor Manager to help them help homeless people build personal businesses selling street newspapers.

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Maybe it’s just me, but I hate walking by people who are begging for money. It always feels like a can’t win situation. I want to help the people, but I don’t like the idea that the money is probably going to help feed a dangerous addiction. The imposition makes me feel uncomfortable, and I also don’t want to get suckered by one of those fake homeless people whom you see on tv – the ones who tv stations catch clearing hundreds of dollars a day and then driving back to their homes. In the end, I always end up feeling bad, whether I give money or not. Street Sense is a non-profit organization that takes a creative approach to helping homeless people whether they’ve been begging on a street corner or just trying to find a job. They’ve created a win-win situation.

Giving Their (and Your) Two Cents

Here’s what Street Sense is all about:

Street Sense is a Washington, D.C.-based 16-page biweekly street newspaper that was founded in 2003. Its mission is to raise public awareness on the issues of homelessness and poverty in the city and to create economic opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.

The newspaper features news, features, editorials, poems and art about homelessness and poverty contributed by homeless or formerly homeless people, advocates and professional writers interested in social issues.

Street Sense sells these newspapers through homeless vendors who can buy the papers at a cost of 25 cents and sell them for $1 each. Instead of begging, homeless people are now selling. More than that, they become business owners who are encouraged to reinvest their profits to buy more newspapers to sell. For people walking down the street, it presents a much better situation. They can buy a newspaper for a dollar, and whether they want to read it or not, they can feel as though they did a good deed.

Street Sense has about 60 vendors currently working, and they’re averaging $40 per day. “Since 2004, at least 16 vendors have found housing and more than 30 have started part-time or full-time jobs, many of which were offered to them while selling the paper.” This is an amazingly innovative way to deal with homelessness, and you can help. Street Sense is currently looking for a part-time Vendor Manager who will become full-time in March of 2009. They need someone to help them to “recruit and train vendors, assess vendors needs, connect vendors to services they need and provide advice, expand vendor distribution to suburbs, and much more.” If you’ve worked with homeless individuals before, this could be a great way to begin your career. You’ll learn all about managing a business and helping people make a better life for themselves. To apply for a job with Street Sense, send a cover letter and resume to executive director Laura Thompson Osuri at laura@streetsense.org.

Links to Help You Begin Your Research

What do you think about Street Sense’s approach to eradicating homelessness?

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