Street Sense has been changing the story of homelessness in Washington, D.C. since 2003. We offer economic opportunities to people experiencing homelessness through media that elevates voices and encourages debate on poverty and injustice. Our innovative approach harnesses the talents, aspirations and hard work of men and women who are homeless. At Street Sense we define ourselves through our work, talents and character, not through our housing situation.
“In order for a social worker to be effective in this setting, [s/he] must use creativity as a springboard to help…the art is what motivates people to move forward, to be courageous.” – Julie Turner, MSW, social work partner at Street Sense.
There are over 11,500 people in the region who are homeless. The vast majority cannot obtain employment due to factors such as disability, mental health, and hygiene. Although social services can address income and housing needs, our sub-population of homeless adults are typically disengaged from social services pathways. Street Sense programming helps the homeless re-engage in community and social services, achieving positive outcomes in stable income and housing.
Street Sense recruits homeless adults into writing, graphic design, film, photography, and theatre workshops, to provide opportunities for self-expression to participants and to provide authentic voices on homelessness issues for the larger community. Participants gain effective communication skills and marketable media production job skills; moreover, Street Sense uses media production activities to connect participants to case managers, who help them move towards stable housing.
Since 2003, Street Sense has grown from a monthly newspaper self-employment program to a world-class media center that reaches tens of thousands of community members each year with content about homelessness: online, on stage, in cinema and in print. We are actively fundraising for the newly launched media center, and this new programming has helped expand our network of partners. Street Sense will continue growing its overall revenue in line with increasing expenses through 2016.