Sometime last year, there began to be a noticeable presence all over Nashville:  street vendors selling what they called the ‘homeless’ newspaper.  Current and former homeless folks selling a homeless newspaper on every street corner & median available. At first glance, it looked like it might be some short-lived venture run out of someone’s basement.  Turns out, there are large, world-wide street news associations that support over 100 street newspapers all over the world.  Not only that, homeless can buy the papers here in Nashville for just a quarter, and sell them for $1 each plus tips (all profit).  This is supposed to cut down on pan handling and give homeless folks a way to earn some cash.

Contributors are a mix of formerly homeless and some (apparently) syndicated columns.  There are poems, word puzzles, and your weekly “Hoboscope.”  The 20-page paper includes articles on everything homeless, from food stamps to health clinics to housing.

The latest issue boasts an interesting cover:  Prince William on one hand, extolling the benefits of supporting the SNS (Street News Service); opposite his photo is a photo of someone about to shoot up heroin (there is actual heroin in the photo).  This is the first time I’ve ever seen heroin, in person or print.  This paper gave me a lot more than I expected.

Kudos to whomever brought this venture to my hometown.  It’s been a cold winter so far, yet not a day has passed that I haven’t seen our homeless vendors peddling that paper.