Organizers for Street Roots hasten to explain that the potential move is not acrimonious and, moreover, that their organization is not threatened.
"We're already looking for a larger space," assures Street Roots public relations coordinator Jacose Bell. Some of the staff at the newspaper noted that a bigger space would allow them to "compartmentalize" their offices, a move that would give newspaper vendors a place to hang out and bathe without making the newsroom a high-traffic area. The new space would allow Street Roots to diversify their services.
"There are gaps in the support provided by area shelters," explains Bell. Ideally, the new location would offer their vendors a place to shower and do laundry.
Street Roots employs about 150 vendors, who buy the papers in bulk and sell them for a buck apiece. While this distribution system gives the homeless a way to help themselves, it also leaves the organization with a growing family. In three years the circulation has jumped from a few thousand to nearly 20,000. Currently, they are working to increase publication to twice a month.
According to Pastor J. Dudley Weaver, First Presbyterian made the site "available to Street Roots, knowing that the time would come when we needed it back." He adds, "we want to maintain our viability as a downtown congregation, and parking is a big part of that." But Weaver is quick to point out that "part of life and ministry in the central city area is people who are on the streets, or not far from them. That is part of what makes this congregation special."
It is believed that the construction project will be tangled in red tape for at least the next year. Street Roots encourages those interested to call 228-5657 with suggestions about a new, larger space.