What is a street paper or magazine?
A street paper or magazine is a publication sold on the streets by people experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty.
Why do street papers matter?
Street papers provide a dignified income for thousands of people experiencing homelessness and poverty through the sales of the publication — helping individuals survive on the streets and work towards having a safe place to call home.
Street papers help improve the overall health of people living on the streets through both the sales of the street paper and by avoiding social exclusion through relationships built with the general public and readers.
Collectively, street papers work to shift public opinion about people experiencing homelessness and combat negative stereotypes about individuals and families living on the streets — helping provide a safe space for everyone to build relationships with people across class lines.
Providing investigative journalism, commentary and storytelling — street papers play a critical role in local media landscapes by helping inform the general public on a range of important social justice issues affecting the community and world in which we live.
Street papers also serve as a watchdog for democracy, and provide an authentic voice for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in the public sphere.
A brief history of street papers in North America
The first known street paper sold by people experiencing homelessness and poverty was Hobo News, and was published in St. Louis, Missouri, USA between 1915 and 1929. The publication sold for 5 cents on the streets. Another publication with the same name was created in New York City in 1936 and sold on the streets for 10 cents. It was in circulation until 1948.
The first modern day street paper in North America emerged in 1989 in San Francisco called Street Sheet. It continues to publish today, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019. In the early 1990s street papers began to emerge in places like London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Portland and Montréal.
Today, there are street papers published in 25 languages in 35 countries. Together, there are more than 4 million street paper readers that support more than 20,500 individuals experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty annually through the sales of street papers or magazines.
North American street papers today
INSP North America support street papers in Canada, Mexico and the USA. You can view street papers in each country using the buttons below: