Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is Street Roots being bought off by the city?

The Willamette Week called this morning.

They wanted to know about the Rose City Resources and if we had been bought off by the city.

The “alt-weekly” is possibly running a news story on the resources. The guide is an eight-year-old publication of Street Roots and Portland’s most comprehensive, updated list of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty.

The current Rose City Resources consists of more than 300 listings of social service and government agencies working with people experiencing homelessness and poverty. The guide consists of listings for the following subjects: Clothing, Employment & Training, Meals & Food Boxes, Food Stamps, Health Care, Financial, Hotlines, Transitional Housing, Legal Services, Rental info, Meals, Recovery resources, Shelters, Youth Services, Utilities, Counseling & Mediation, and Animal care.

For years, Street Roots has been publishing the 4-page guide in the middle of the newspaper. The organization also sold individual copies of the resources to various social service and government agencies, including the Oregon Food Bank, Department of Human Services, Planned Parenthood, Department of Corrections, JOIN, and the Department of Corrections, to name a few. Orders were made in bulk for 25 cents a copy.

After doing outreach in the fall of 2006, Street Roots came to the conclusion that some agencies could not afford the guide, while most of the Street Roots readers did not use the resources themselves.

Street Roots approached the City of Portland to partner on a newly formatted wallet size guide with the idea that the resources would be subsidized to city and county bureau’s, social service agencies, hospitals, outreach workers and emergency responders that work with people experiencing poverty.

The City of Portland, specifically the mayor’s office and Erik Sten’s office, told Street Roots to do our research and to find out if we would be duplicating services. So we set out and talked to numerous groups, such as 211 Community Info, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, social service agencies, etc., etc. It seemed several resource guides existed, but many were small and out of date – some dating back to 2004. We also found out that by creating a newly formatted resource guide, we would be saving numerous agencies hundreds of combined hours of staff time spent on running around trying to update information for their specific customers.

After doing the outreach, we worked with the mayor’s office to get the funding through money set aside for mental health services and the SAFE committee. We made it clear that our advocacy and editorial stance was separate from our direct service component and that we disagreed fully with the sit-lie ordinance attached to the SAFE committees recommendations. We agreed to disagree.

Editorially Street Roots never bent on the issues that we consider to be human rights violations by the City of Portland for enforcing laws against people experiencing homelessness. We strongly came out against the sit-lie ordinance – calling it unconstitutional and a violation of human rights. We opposed the passing of an ordinance that allowed three Portland Police officers to be paid for by the Portland Business Alliance and continue a campaign for public oversight of the Portland Patrol Inc., a private security company that has issued more than 1,100 park exclusions.

The newly formatted guide that is scheduled to come out in September will be an expanded guide with more listings and details about specific agencies, along with more than a dozen new sections, including how people can get involved through community organizing projects, a “know your rights” component, and a veterans section along with updated events such as Project Homeless Connect, where public restrooms are, and what to do in case of a drug overdose, to name a few.

We are proud of the Rose City Resources, and proud to be working with numerous organizations that strongly support the guide, including the City of Portland. We believe by offering people a durable, wallet-sized format of the resources and rights available to people on the streets, we are bettering the lives of not only poor people, but Portlanders as a whole.

We also believe Street Roots has shown a history of professional journalism, and advocacy and never bowed to the idea that you can’t work with someone on one hand, and battle it out on another.

We look forward to publishing the guide and look forward to serving Portlanders with a unique variety of news, direct services, empowerment and advocacy that you can’t find anywhere else in the city.

Has Street Roots been bought off by the city? The simple answer is, no!


Israel Bayer
Street Roots


Matt Davis said...

I'm still waiting for my $30k.

Tim Harris said...

I think it's astonishing that a publication that's financed largely by the sex industry has twice now questioned the ethics of Street Roots, a publication that helps homeless people on a budget of something like $200,000. Can't they find any real targets?

Matt Davis said...

I don't think it's targets they were after. But "news." Still you're right: Either way, they're struggling.

Israel Bayer said...

The reporter asked some great questions. They have every right to ask questions about Street Roots getting money from the city - but the idea that we have been bought off is nutty.

Sorry to say Matt, but nobody at SRs makes 30K. It's all about the love.

Matt Davis said...

I'm sure the WW asked some great questions. By the way, I make $2million a week.

Israel Bayer said...


I figured with your gonzo style of journalism you made at least that much.

Kevin Hanson said...

It comes as no surprise that the "for hire" media would try and slam an independant source of real truth.

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