StreetWise Seeks To Keep The Needy Safe

CHICAGO (CBS) — The organization behind StreetWise magazine is stepping up efforts to keep panhandlers off the streets and safe.

Workers were sent out to expressway ramps, handing out fliers educating drivers about homelessness. They advised anyone who sees someone panhandling to tell that person to come to StreetWise.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty reports

The workers say this is the first time they have done anything like this, and they are hopeful it will work.

“We want to let people in need know that there are resources out there so they don’t have to resort to begging just to survive,” said StreetWise executive director Jim LoBianco. “StreetWise has been around for 20 years so people don’t have to panhandle. You can get a legitimate employment opportunity.”

A week ago, a woman was begging for money on the Pulaski Road ramp on the Stevenson Expressway, when she was hit and killed by a car.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported last month on the traffic hazard caused by panhandling in the middle of the street, to both those who are begging and the drivers.

StreetWise officials are trying to make sure those in need are not placed in danger.

“Anytime we hear of the death of a person in need, whether they freeze to death from exposure, or die from some act of violence or some accident because they’re not getting the help they need, it’s very difficult for the entire social service community,” LoBianco said.

StreetWise began in 1992, as a venture to help disadvantaged people in Chicago earn an income and learn employment skills. Vendors purchase copies of the magazine from the StreetWise agency for 75 cents per copy and sell it to the public for $2 per copy, generating a profit of $1.25 per copy.

StreetWise also provides direct connections to social service organizations, and operates a workforce resource center.

  • Linda

    I have been selling StreetWise for 7 Years now and it pays my rent and bills. I wish more people would try it so things like this won’t happen so often in our streets. The hardest part is making your mind up and walking through the door. StreetWise has made me into a better person and they gave me a chance when many people closed the door on me. I am also going to college and raising my family.

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