Street papers or street newspapers, which is the sale of print publications by poor-income or homeless individuals so that they can gain a livable income, have been around for about twenty years. Interestingly, however, Real Issues Magazine began as an online compendium of various issues, articles and news items. In the face of the so-called demise of print journalism, this is an interesting twist on a tried-and-true concept. The online publication works as a source of coverage on local and national issues that affect homeless communities.
Based in Houston, Texas, Real Issues Magazine will launch its first print version this month. As a self-identified social enterprise adhering to the triple bottom line, the Real Issues print publication is a collaboration with The Real Advocacy Group, a social enterprise that aims to create sustainable solutions to the challenges that homeless communities face.
Publications like Real Issues Magazine typically do three things. First, they allow homeless and low-income communities to gain employment and support themselves financially. Second, they create, strengthen and sustain social networks among homeless communities. Third, they raise awareness about poverty and homeless issues, which is crucial, as many mainstream news publications ignore the intricacies and nuances surrounding human rights and social justice issues that exist for the homeless. Some of the topics covered include labor, environment, human interest pieces, local political coverage, interviews, humor pieces and health care.
Real Issues Magazine’s print vendors will go through orientation, training and will be given ten free copies of the magazine. After that initial donation phase, issues are sold to vendors for 75 cents each and consumers are asked to pay a minimum of 2$ per issue. According to Real Issues Magazine, a recent poll of U.S.-based street papers found that the average vendor earns $45 a day. Potential vendors are not discriminated against according to criminal or educational background, which allows those in need to benefit from this important social resource. Real Issues does not reimburse its vendors if they fail to sell the issues that they bought.
Using micro-enterprise, social enterprise and entrepreneurship combined, Real Issues Magazine creates an opportunity to develop the employment skills and self-confidence to hopefully allow them to earn other job opportunities in the future.
Real Issues Website
P.O. Box 541359
Houston, TX 77254