Streetwise Finds Hope

Non-profit magazine gets help from donors and aldermen

Whether or not they've ever purchased an issue, all Chicagoans are familiar with Streetwise, the publication that has been providing the city's homeless with jobs and hope since 1992. For many, the paper is their only source of income, especially now that Illinois' unemployment rates are the highest in 24 years.

However, earlier this week, the magazine reported that it was running out of money, having lost support from many foundations in the difficult economy, and was in danger of shutting down.

Streetwise says they need about $75,000 in order to stay afloat.

Fortunately, donations began pouring in, including a pledge of $25,000 from one generous couple, Jim and Kay Mabie. Altogether, contributions have totaled about $41,000.

"Unreal," Streetwise board vice chairman Pete Kadens told the Tribune. "I'm on Cloud Nine."

Chicago aldermen have also promised to save the publication with funds allocated for workforce development and homeless prevention.

"This is not a hand-out. Streetwise has done an effective job of preventing homelessness. A good number of vendors are no longer homeless because of the income they're earning," said Ald. Manny Flores (1st), reports the Sun-Times.

"If we lose Streetwise, it would be another black eye for Chicago," Flores added. "Not only would we be losing this wonderful institution, but what message would we be sending? Losing hope, losing opportunity, and, in many instances, losing homes."

Matt Bartosik is the editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and a "between blogs" blogger.

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