The suggested donation is $1 (although you can give more) and in return you get the paper. The very first inside page explains how the paper works, and it kind of reminded me of Mary Kay. Each vendor pays 35 cents for each paper and then they get to keep the profit off of whatever consumers pay for the paper. The sellers must follow a code of conduct. In this, the very first Street Sense paper I ever bought, I found an article by a success story of the paper; a woman who, through writing for and selling Street Sense, was able to work her way out of homelessness.
The articles are both depressing and uplifting. They deal with issues facing the homeless, such as the situation inside of women's shelters and the rising prices of rent for the poorest tenants, but there are also articles of hope, such as opportunities for volunteer work and a sweet article titled: "A smile goes a long way." To my amusement and delight, there was even a short fictional story written by one of the vendors.
Even before I finally bought my first issue, I'd been wanting to purchase one for a long time. The main problem is that I don't carry cash most of the time. But I'd like to start doing so and start supporting this mission. I have to admire the people who are out there, day after day, trying to turn their situation around through work.
Helping people while reading a good paper? That sounds fantastic.