Our Mission and History

Our mission is to end homelessness in the Washington, D.C. area by empowering people in need with the skills, tools, and confidence to succeed. Together we use a range of media platforms to raise awareness and spotlight solutions to homelessness in our community.

What We Do

Street Sense Media produces journalism, film, theater, photography, audio, illustration, and more, all for the purpose of providing economic opportunity for and elevating the voices of people with lived experience of homelessness. The content of our media aims to challenge perceptions of homelessness and those it affects while creating common ground upon which we can build a stronger community. You may read about our newsroom’s standards and ethics here.

Our innovative approach harnesses the abilities, aspirations, and hard work of men and women experiencing homelessness. We have long known that while housing and economic opportunity are distributed unevenly, talent and creativity are distributed equally, without regard to income or housing status.

In addition to the economic opportunities provided by our newspaper vendor program, since 2017, Street Sense Media has offered case management services to support the men and women we work with and others as they navigate the often complex bureaucracies toward permanent housing, employment, and physical and mental health care.

At Street Sense Media, we define ourselves through our work, talents, and character, not through our housing situation.

Our History

Street Sense Media was founded as Street Sense in August 2003 after two volunteers, Laura Thompson-Osuri and Ted Henson, approached the National Coalition for the Homeless on separate occasions about starting a street newspaper in Washington, D.C.

After bringing together a core of dedicated volunteers and vendors, Street Sense published its first issue in November 2003 with a print run of 5,000 copies. The newspaper has been published consistently on a monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis. In December 2003, Street Sense was featured on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, a national PBS broadcast. You may watch that segment here.

Since then, Street Sense has produced thousands of articles, including some that led to change in the city. The paper has won awards from D.C.’s Society of Professional Journalism and regularly breaks news about homelessness and housing.

Today the paper is published biweekly and remains the flagship channel of our expanding media center.

Street Sense has also expanded to offer workshops and case management services, helping our vendors develop writing and artistic talents, apply for benefits, and secure housing.

Click here to learn about the Street Sense Excellence in Journalism Awards and The David Pike Award.

A Global Movement

The street paper model we recognize today began in New York City in 1989 and has since expanded to cities across the globe. Street Sense Media is a proud member of the International Network of Street Papers, which boasts more than 90 independently operated street papers in 35 countries worldwide.

Our Professionalism

In 2020, Street Sense Media joined the Institute for Nonprofit News, which strengthens and supports more than 400 independent news organizations in a new kind of news network: nonprofit, nonpartisan, and dedicated to public service.

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.