As promised in our follow-up post to Homeless Hotspots, we wanted to keep everyone updated on how those learnings- and open conversations- are being applied to try to help fight homelessness at scale.

We’re quite proud to say we’re in active dialogue with both the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA) and the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) working out how to help their members (150 or so papers across the globe) address some key issues they face in a modern media landscape. We’ve begun by working on a key pilot program: StreetWise in Chicago. We came to meet Jim LoBianco, who runs the paper (and broader organization), after he wrote this post during Homeless Hotspots. Upon speaking with Jim, it was clear he has a track record of innovation fighting homelessness, and that the organization is dealing with a number of issues familiar to papers around the world, including:

  • Digitizing payments options for street vendors working in an environment in which fewer people are carrying change
  • Offering digital services to accompany a print offering under pressure
  • Ensuring vendors have a clear set of tools to earn income and offer something of commercial value
  • Do all of the above without eroding vendors’ ability to engage with mainstream society (this is good for both parties, and is the key issue that blossomed into Homeless Hotspots originally)

If we can collectively address these issues for the largest North American street paper, we’re optimistic we can help other interested street papers evolve with the changing media and mobile landscape.

We’ll continue to keep everyone posted on progress. We appreciate the exceptional level of support you’ve shown for the participants and the shelter throughout this process. In fact, it may be worth heading over to the Front Steps Facebook page to say congrats to Hotspot Manager Jonathan who raised enough money from Homeless Hotspots to put him over the edge and move out of the shelter and into housing!

If you’re interested in helping us with any of these efforts, please reach out.