The street paper will also lay off an editor and cut hours for some staffers.
Written by Nick Pasion | Published on
Photograph by Nick Pasion.
Street Sense, DC’s local street paper, will stop printing weekly and will lay off some of its staff. It will now appear in print every other week.
In April 2021, the paper upped its print schedule in an attempt to increase income for vendors, but its CEO says a downturn in funding has forced the changes. “To be honest, it was about survival and being able to meet our obligations and our expenses,” Brian Carome says. Carome says the paper received an influx in donations—its primary source of funding—during the pandemic, but as the health restrictions waned, so did donations.
Street Sense reports on homelessness, housing, and inequality around the District, working with people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness. Its vendors buy the papers wholesale (for about 50 cents) and resell them for $2. Carome says since there will be fewer issues for vendors to sell, the nonprofit is considering increasing the cost of the print paper—from $2 to $4—to offset vendors’ drop in income.
Street Sense also laid off its deputy editor, Carome says, and halved the hours of its case manager and director of development and communications. There are 11 people currently listed on Street Sense’s staff page. Carome says he hopes the changes won’t be permanent and that the nonprofit is looking for more funding. Those interested in donating can do so here.
Over the past few years, the paper has chronicled officials’ efforts to clear homeless encampments around the District, a policy that forcibly removes unsheltered individuals from their homes while, in several instances, failing to connect them with housing. Street Sense also publishes art, songs, pictures, and essays by vendors. In addition, the organization offers case management services to help individuals find housing, jobs, and health care.
Street Sense isn’t alone in retreating from print. Local newspapers all over the country have cut the frequency of their print editions—this year alone in Iowa, Oregon, Montana, Pennsylvania, among other places. In the Washington area, Washington City Paper eliminated its print publication in May 2022, and the Washington Post cut its Sunday magazine and laid off staffers last November.
Readers who want to buy copies of Street Sense can find them sold by vendors at various locations across the District. You can purchase the papers with cash or through Street Sense’s app.
* I interned at Street Sense in spring 2022.