Street Roots

for those who cannot afford free speech

Our Mission

Street Roots creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for individual and social change.

Our Work

Our Programs

  • Our Vendor Program has more than 160 active vendors that sell Street Roots in the Portland metropolitan area. More than 500 vendors sell the newspaper during the course of a year. Collectively, nearly 35,000 newspapers are sold each month.
  • Our Newspaper delivers in-depth news and commentary on social and economic justice issues important to the entire community. Street Roots is a platform for people on the streets to have a voice in the political and social dialogue, bridging cultural and class divides with a greater understanding on social matters that affect us all.
  • Our Resource Guide is a 4'x 4', 104-page guide and is the most comprehensive, updated list of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Multnomah and Washington counties. More than 160,000 guides are published annually by Street Roots and distributed to more than 400 organizations and and entities working with people experiencing homelessness and poverty in the Portland region.
  • Our Advocacy efforts are related to homelessness and housing in Portland and throughout the state of Oregon and around the United States.

Our History

  • January 2, 2015: Street Roots goes from a bi-weekly to a weekly publication.
  • 2012: Street Roots remains a strong voice within the North American and global street newspaper movement. The street newspaper movement now has more than 100 newspapers in more than 40 countries. Locally, the newspaper and vendor programs continue to be staples in the community. Liesl Wendt, the Executive Director at 211info says, "Street Roots' direct service to Portland’s homeless population and their advocacy on some of the city’s most crucial social policies makes them an unparalleled leader in our community." Street Roots is working throughout 2012 to build capacity with the goal of going weekly in 2013.
  • 2011: Street Roots continues to grow its presence in the community through the vendor program and the Street Roots Rose City Resource. Street Roots serves 350 people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Street Roots delivers groundbreaking reporting with in-depth series' on Traumatic Brain Injuries and Asperger's Syndrome, respectively. The organization is given an award from Veterans for Peace for the newspaper's on-going coverage of veterans, including in-depth reporting on veterans and homelessness. Managing Editor Joanne Zuhl wins Best Feature in the 2011 NASNA Awards as well as 2nd place at the Society of Professional Journalists' Awards in both the Religion and Investigative Reporting categories for On the Left Side of God: How Politics and Religion Mix in the World of Charitable Giving.
  • 2010: Street Roots joins the Society of Professional Journalists and walks with three first place prizes in its first year. More than 250 people experiencing homelessness and poverty are served by Street Roots. Street Roots reporting helps save 300 people from eviction in Northwest Oregon. Street Roots refuses to cancel a listing of Planned Parenthood in the Rose City Resource Guide, and loses $10,000 in annual funding from the Portland Archdiocese. Street Roots responds with a five-month award-winning investigative report that highlights more than 50 grassroots organizations having their funding pulled by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Street Roots Executive Director is awarded the Skidmore Prize for being one of the best non-profit leaders in the city under the age of 35.
  • 2009: Street Roots celebrates 10 years. The newspaper has become a staple in the community, both as a news source and an income-empowerment opportunity for scores of vendors working throughout the community. The vendor program continues to expand, becoming a welcome presence in front of many businesses throughout Portland. Vendors continue to prevent and end their homelessness through the sales of the newspaper. Street Roots launches the Rose City Resource, a 104-page booklet that offers the most comprehensive list of services in the Portland region for people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Street Roots is awarded one of the best volunteer organizations by the Portland Trail Blazers.
  • 2008: Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer becomes the North American Street Newspaper Association Chairperson, helping build a network of strong papers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten says, "Street Roots has changed the face of homelessness in Portland."
  • 2006: Street Roots and the North American Street Newspaper Association join the International Network of Street Papers. At the time, the network spans the globe with more than 70 newspapers and a combined circulation of 55 million. Street Roots has helped prevent several hundred people from becoming homeless, while helping hundreds more end their homelessness. Street Roots Managing Editor Joanne Zuhl joins the International Network of Street Papers Board of Directors, and takes on a leadership role over the next five years that supports the development of street papers in countries around the world.
  • 2005: Managing Editor Joanne Zuhl is awarded the Steve Lowenstein Award, and Director Israel Bayer receives the Cecil M. Shumway Fund award for service to the poor and underprivileged in Portland. A feature in the Society for News Design calls Street Roots "one of the best, if not the best, street papers in the country."
  • 2003: Street Roots doubles its publication schedule to twice a month. The decision is based on the cycle of sales and the demand for a more competitive news product. The new publication schedule is strongly supported by the paper's readers.
  • 2000: Street Roots becomes the launch pad for Dignity Village, Portland's only city-sanctioned homeless community. This open-air alternative to shelters is a home for many of our vendors, as well as a community base for social and economic empowerment.
  • 1999: Street Roots emerges from the defunct Burnside Cadillac newspaper to become Portland's flagship publication addressing homelessness and poverty. The newspaper starts with a handful of volunteers, including the current Executive Editor of the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Phoenix, Bryan Pollard, and New Orleans' writer and organizer Michael Parker. The paper starts with five vendors experiencing homelessness.

Our Friends Speak About Street Roots

Street Roots and its writers and vendors are an invaluable part of our community's fabric. Social justice is only within our grasp only when we all participate in learning about, supporting, and fighting for this mission. Street Roots is a daily reminder, on blocks throughout Portland, that we are all in this together.

- Mara Zepeda, co-founder, Switchboard