Local people facing homelessness soon will be able to earn money by selling a news magazine with content about challenges they face and various social justice issues.
Founder Paul Gangarosa put up his own money and time to create The Lowcountry Herald, a monthly news magazine whose first 16-page issue should be published this week.
"I saw through the Great Recession how easy it is for anyone to become homeless," says Gangarosa, an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston who teaches public health. He also saw the concept of so-called street newspapers.
People who sign on as vendors will receive their first 10 issues of The Lowcountry Herald free so that no start-up costs are required. From there, they will pay $1 for each issue to be sold for $5. They will keep the extra $4.
The goal is to offer a way for vendors to earn money without requiring criminal background checks, education levels, housing and other hurdles to traditional employment. Its content will be produced by local writers and wire services that serve this type of publication.
Street newspapers are independent newspapers or magazines sold worldwide by homeless people as a way to earn money and, depending on the publication's content, raise awareness of poverty, homelessness and other social issues.
One of the first street newspapers in America was Street News in New York City, created in 1989. Others today include Portland's Street Roots, Chicago's StreetWise and South Florida's The Homeless Voice.
The Lowcountry Herald is the first in South Carolina, Gangarosa says. He has hired two part-time staff and gathered a group of volunteers.
"Charleston is a very generous city," he says. "I've been struck by how much people want to help."
He hopes to see vendors spread out and work in consistent areas so that local residents and businesses are familiar with them and can foster relationships. That, in turn, will combat stereotypes about the homeless.
"They know what to do to improve their situations, but they lack the capital to do it," Gangarosa says. "Here is an opportunity to do this as long as they want, as much as they want."
The Neighborhood House, in Our Lady of Mercy Church on America Street in downtown Charleston, will distribute The Lowcountry Herald on Fridays to vendors who have signed Code of Conduct agreements. The first issue will be distributed this Friday at noon.
Gangarosa hopes to add more distribution points later.
As the news magazine gets rolling, Gangarosa also hopes to add advertisers and coupons along with more profiles of its vendors, Spoleto coverage, movie reviews and local government coverage. He also would like vendors to write about their own struggles with homelessness.
Meanwhile, he is seeking nonprofit status for the magazine in hopes of applying for grants and other funding sources. Gangarosa encourages potential vendors to contact the news magazine. For more, go to www.lowcountryherald.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.