By Israel Bayer, Staff Writer
Here’s a brief recap of Street Roots over the past year:
Street Roots published more than 600 community voices in 2012. The newspaper partnered with more than two dozen organizations that ran op-eds in the newspaper on upstream approaches related to health care, prison reform, equity and other important social justice issues. The organization continued its relationship with Portland State University Capstone class on journalism.
The newspaper continued to strengthen its journalism by reporting on a range of issues related to poverty in our community. We took home five awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including two first place awards for our reporting on traumatic brain injury, culture and health care. The newspaper began running interviews with socially responsible musicians with the hopes of bringing a new audience to the newspaper. We published dozens of poems and artwork from people on the streets, giving readers an inside look at people’s creative skills and expression.
Street Roots was open for 365 days last year to vendors, for the 14th straight year. Vendors and Street Roots work with more than 60 local businesses in the community. The organization helped house more than 60 individuals through the sales of the newspaper and with the help of partner agencies. We help prevent another 100 people from becoming homeless through the vendor program. Through the sales of the newspaper, we help put more than $300,000 into the hands of our vendors last year.
We dedicated a 1,000-square-foot day space for vendors to access. Vendors are able to use computers, get mail, get hydrated and converse in the office. We also developed a successful weekly writers group.
For the first time ever, with the support of the Oregon and Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s offices, the Multnomah County Health Department analyzed medical examiner records of homeless people who died while not under a physician’s care. The report was initiated and co-authored by Street Roots. The goal of the report is to better guide the community’s response for health care and services. Look for the second annual report this spring.
Street Roots helped lead a campaign to preserve millions of dollars in the Portland Housing Bureau budget for homeless and housing services through the “I support the Safety Net” campaign.
Street Roots continues to advocate for the civil rights of people experiencing homelessness and for a range of policy efforts that effect people on the streets. Street Roots isn’t afraid to speak truth to power, respectfully, and sometimes write about and say things that may be unpopular on the poverty front.
Rose City Resource Guide
Street Roots published 106,000 guides that were distributed to more than 250 organizations and institutions throughout the metro area. The guide serves as the most comprehensive list of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in the region. It allows local services and institutions the ability to create relationships with people in the community and educate individuals and families on what services are available.
Organization and capacity building
Street Roots launched its first official volunteer program. The new program entails a monthly orientation and a point person for volunteers to access the different programs within the organization.
Street Roots partnered with the local tech community and launched a new organizational and news website, news.streetroots.org. We experimented with social media strategies to raise more awareness about the issue of poverty and our work. We upgraded our internal communications systems so we could better communicate with one another and added a paperless, digital vendor database to track vendor sales and information. We became a Personal Telco node, meaning we are providing a free Internet signal to the areas surrounding Street Roots.
We expanded our offices, adding a 2,000 square feet of space for our editors, writers and development team. We built a new ADA restroom for vendors and the public.
We continued our relationship with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and other organizations working to create social change in our community.
In short, we did a lot this year (with a fairly small budget) with the support of people like you and through partnerships with local businesses and foundations.
In 2013, you’ll see Street Roots become more active on the web by bringing in a variety of new voices through the news site. You’ll see the newspaper continue to deliver quality journalism and voices from the streets. Portland will continue to maintain new and old relationships alike with vendors. We will continue to work with local housing organizations to gain access to housing for our vendors. We will expand and publish more Rose City Resource Guides and our advocacy will take on smart and winnable campaigns that help change the lives of people in poverty and the entire community for the better. We look forward to spending the next year with you.
We thank you, and sincerely appreciate your support.