StreetWise starts fundraiser to support magazine vendors during COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicagoans experiencing homelessness are among the most at-risk during the COVID-19 outbreak, and the city-wide isolation has eliminated the income for those who work as StreetWise vendors.

"StreetWise is an organization that empowers people to work," said executive director Julie Youngquist. "We do that through a number of ways. The way we're most well known for is the magazine."

Where newspaper stands once stood before the digitization of most news outlets, you'll now find vendors selling StreetWise magazines. But as the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted all aspects of life, many vendors are still in need of an income.

"For many of our vendors, this is legitimately the delta, the gap between life and death," said chairman emeritus Peter Kadens.

Some StreetWise vendors are still working on their regular corners downtown, despite it being a virtual ghost town.

"I got to survive. I need a roof over my head, I need to eat, wash my clothes," said vendor Keith Hardiman, who sells magazines at the corner of Lake Street and Michigan Avenue.

Others are unable to continue working because, like many people experiencing homelessness, they have compromised immune systems and are especially at-risk during the outbreak.

In order to support their vendors during this global crisis, StreetWise launched a campaign to raise $300,000, enough to subsidize the nearly 130 vendors over the next few months.

StreetWise raised $50,000 during the first day of fundraising. Youngquist directed all those looking to donate toward the StreetWise website.

"I need your help. Streetwise needs your help," Hardiman said.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.