Article 25

Homeless Coalition is Hurting Homeless People

In Uncategorized on 07/21/2011 at 8:26 pm

Homeless Coalition is Hurting Homeless People

by Article 25

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless is making it difficult for homeless people to make a living.

The coalition has been telling vendors that they may not distribute Streetvibes and Article 25 at the same time.

Article 25 is an independent street newspaper focused on human rights. The paper takes its name from Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is the basis for the paper’s editorial policy.

“If the Homeless Coalition wants to help homeless people, why would they keep them from making more money?” said Gregory Flannery, editor of Article 25. “We have urged our distributors to work for both papers. But the Homeless Coalition is telling its vendors that they can’t distribute both papers at the same time.”

Distributed by people who have trouble finding jobs because they have criminal records, mental illness or are homeless, Article 25 is a non-profit social enterprise. Distributors buy the newspaper for 25 cents and offer it for a donation of $1.

Article 25 has invited Streetvibes vendors to distribute both papers, as a way to increase their earnings. But Streetvibes vendors report that the Homeless Coalition has told them that they cannot distribute both papers at the same time or they’ll face consequences for violating their code of conduct.

Josh Spring, executive director of the Homeless Coalition, has criticized the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) for not employing residents of the Over-the-Rhine. But the Homeless Coalition’s own punitive rules likewise keep poor people from earning more money, Flannery said.

“In its first month, Article 25 signed up more than 60 distributors, including many Streetvibes vendors,” he said. “This shows the need for jobs. Why is the Homeless Coalition trying to keep poor people from making an honest income?”

Flannery called on the Homeless Coalition to change its rules so that homeless people can distribute both papers.

“Josh Spring assured me that he had no objection to Streetvibes vendors distributing Article 25, but he and his staff have told their vendors the opposite,” Flannery said.

The implications for the distributors can be huge. As an example, one distributor purchased 90 copies of Article 25 in a two-week period. His total investment was $22.50. Assuming he received $1 per paper (many distributors average $2 – $3 from their regular clientele), the $67.50 he was able to net could translate into several meals, a bus pass and maybe cover part of his energy bill.

But if the Homeless Coalition doesn’t change its rules, distributors will be limited, having to choose one paper to distribute.

“We urge the Homeless Coalition to do the right thing and follow its own stated mission – namely, help homeless people,” Flannery said. “Don’t penalize them for trying to support themselves.”

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