We may be broke but at least we’re not alone. Recently, more and more homeless and poor people’s organizations across America are cutting back on programs, laying off staff, or facing the prospect of closing their doors.
For the first time in the Coalition’s 17 years (and STREET SHEET’s 15 years) we’re doing the first two and looking hard at the third. Dedicated COH staff—sacrificing personal earning potential to pursue a social justice agenda—are now reluctantly seeking alternate income sources while others are looking for new employment.
We’ve scaled our office hours down to 8:30 am until 3 pm Monday through Thursday, and we’re only open on Fridays until noon so our vendors can still pick up papers for weekend sales.
And, as you can see, we’ve reduced STREET SHEET’s monthly production run from 36,000 twelve-page, two-color copies to 30,000 eight page tabloids in black only.
These past fifteen years, STREET SHEET has facilitated over five million dollars changing hands from everyday San Franciscans and visitors to homeless STREET SHEET vendors. This income is vital, especially considered in context with our nation’s economy, government funding and program cuts, as well as the recent local implementation of Care Not Cash and the anti-panhandling ordinance.
We have never conducted any kind of market analysis to determine the demographics of STREET SHEET readers.
We do know that a lot of people care. The Coalition’s greatest source of private donations is individual donors who have met us through our STREET SHEET and its vendors.
When the COH staffed the development of the Community Housing Partnership—which now owns and manages over 300 permanent housing units for homeless families and individuals and employs over 60% formerly homeless staff—STREET SHEET readers were able to follow this landmark development’s progress monthly, and many became involved. We know you care.
The Coalition also uses the STREET SHEET as a tool to educate readers on the not-so-positive aspects of homelessness, such as continued police harassment of homeless people. COH ended up representing over 19,000 homeless people in court every year. We’re currently developing the Status Crimes Defense Collaborative to take this work over, and we still represent as many people as we can, but only though the awesome volunteer efforts of our former staff attorney.
We all know we can’t criminalize homelessness out of existence. But the STREET SHEET still documents how our society, in fact, continues to criminalize more and more homeless and disabled people. More and more of our readers reject this. We know you care.
We’re not going to cram these eight pages with paragraph after paragraph about the incredible people and work of the Coalition on Homelessness. You read the STREET SHEET—you know what we do.
We are but a small group serving as your conduit to a world many people have glimpsed, but few truly understand.
We facilitate opportunities for the public to hear directly from homeless people and front-line staff, the people who know what’s real or not in homeless policy and in the manipulated reality of City Hall homeless politics. We’ve spoken truth in response to the Chronicle’s exploitive support of President Bush’s stealth re-election campaign (read: cut $1.6 billion from poor people’s housing programs while creating a $70 million Chronic Homelessness initiative, and then force over 150 local mayors to compete with each other to get a tiny piece of it).
We’ve shown takeovers of vacant government properties that should be housing our families. We’ve published art and poetry and revealed our spiritual selves. We know you care.
Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
When it comes to homelessness in San Francisco, we are that small group of committed citizens—and today more than ever before in our 17 year existence we truly need your help. We know you care. Please, send us whatever you can.