Spare Change News

If you live in Boston long enough, you’ll probably get to know a Spare Change News vendor. They’re a remarkably loyal bunch; many have been distributing the paper for decades. And they’re all currently or formerly homeless, or otherwise low-income individuals.

Spare Change News does its best to hire current or former homeless individuals for many roles, not just for distribution. From writers to editors to graphic designers, they tap an under-appreciated talent market. And they do that without sacrificing editorial standards. The current issue has a great Q&A with civil-rights icon and US representative John Lewis, for example.

Today, I bought a copy of Spare Change News from my local vendor. It’s published by the Homeless Empowerment Project, which provides stability and community for its vendors, and provides other resources to enable the homeless to transition. I remember when the paper was launched 25 years ago. I was impressed by the idea at the time, though I concede I’ve only been an occasional purchaser over the years, despite really liking some of the vendors. I’m even more impressed today, by the ability of the paper to stay alive when print is dying, and by the loyalty of its vendors.

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