Word on the Street, a project of Fusion Partnerships, Inc., is an independent, grassroots newspaper led by those experiencing homelessness and by their allies that aims to educate the community and expose the underlying causes of homelessness by highlighting the contributions of homeless and formerly homeless individuals while providing vendors with a source of income.
History of Project:
Beginning in February, 2011, diverse collection of individuals from community agencies and Baltimore-area universities have been meeting and planning the launch of Baltimore’s first street newspaper.
Over the course of 2011, small working groups formed, devoted to developing content and layout, fundraising, organization and distribution strategies.
What is Word on the Street?
Word on the Street is a quarterly newspaper, with content sections such as a featured focus topic, news, arts and opinion pertaining to homelessness and poverty in Baltimore. Roughly half of the individuals in the organizing committees for Word on the Street are currently homeless or have recently experienced homelessness. In addition, the content is largely written and developed by those experiencing or who have experienced homelessness as well as advocates working toward the end of homelessness in Baltimore.
The distribution of the paper is a source of income for those struggling with homelessness and/or extreme poverty. Individuals will sell the paper for $1.00 on street corners and in high-traffic areas, similar to way vendors wearing reflexive vests sell the Baltimore Sun. The vendor keeps 75% of the proceeds and returns 25% to the organization to pay for printing costs.
The newspaper provides homeless and formerly homeless individuals opportunities for expression by publishing articles, letters and artwork. Writing and photography workshops will be help regularly throughout the year, offering training to those interested in contributing to the paper.
The paper serves as a communication bridge between those who have homes and those struggling without them, helping people to understand the issues that create harmful barriers in our community and bringing attention to issues that are not frequently covered by mainstream news media.