From The Plain Dealer
A Cleveland newspaper written and distributed by homeless people is celebrating 20 years of publishing this year.
I’m sure most of us have forgotten all about it, or never really noticed.
But the paper — first published under the banner, the “Homeless Grapevine,” and later the “Cleveland Street Chronicle” – has an undeniable link to the city, downtown and to homeless services.
The paper has changed policy.
It’s also changed a few lives.
The paper was inspired by Angelo Anderson and a small group of other homeless people, who were looking to make money on the streets without begging. Initially, they just made photo copies of stories they wrote but found that selling a paper that looked like a cheap flier was tough.
So, in 1993, they asked the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and its then-director, Brian Davis, for help. With a grant from Trinity Cathedral, the coalition turned Anderson’s vision into a tabloid-size paper on real newsprint. It featured stories about life on the streets and about battling addiction. It also included poetry and information about local shelters and homeless services.
The coalition smartly demanded anyone who wanted to sell the paper follow certain rules, including refraining from aggressive sales pitches. Homeless people had to pay 10 cents for each copy of the paper, which they could sell for $1 and keep the profits. Each vendor had to sell 200 copies to earn a permanent vendor’s badge from the coalition. Those who broke the rules lost their right to buy the paper.