[Hpn] Dallas, TX - Homeless newspaper may be folding - The Dallas Morning News - December 23, 2002

H C Covington H C Covington <hccjr@bellsouth.net>
Mon, 23 Dec 2002 08:39:34 -0600

Homeless newspaper may be folding

Reduced donations mean latest
issue is likely to be the last
By KENDALL ANDERSON - The Dallas Morning News - December 23, 2002

Five years ago, accountant Clora Hogan often noticed homeless
people on her way to work but did little about it.

Today, she is known by many of Dallas' homeless as well as
leaders at City Hall as the top advocate for those who live on
the street. The feisty 55-year-old's efforts have prompted
changes in the way the police and city officials deal with the

But the vehicle that helped Ms. Hogan become an advocate  her
monthly newspaper sold by the homeless  is in danger of closing.
A 50 percent drop in contributions this year means the latest
edition is probably her last.

That reality hung like a cloud over a party Ms. Hogan recently
held for those who sell and write the paper. This month marks the
publication's fourth anniversary.

"I would like to continue because this is where my passion is,
and I've had more gratification working for the homeless than
doing oil and gas accounting," said Ms. Hogan, who nearly drained
her savings in 1998 to launch the paper.

She said she won't be able to continue advocacy work once she
starts looking for and then working a full-time job.

Brian Williams signs an agreement at the Stewpot to sell Endless
Choices. Copies are $1. The mayor has talked about banning
panhandling, which some people say selling the newspaper amounts
to. But the paper calls it a job.

Endless Choices, which covers homeless issues, has been sold by
more than 2,010 homeless and working poor people since 1998.

After employees undergo a training program and sign a pledge to
stay sober and courteous while on the job, they get a badge and
can buy copies for a fraction of the $1 asking price. They sell
them on downtown street corners.

Circulation has grown from 3,000 in 1998 to around 7,000, Ms.
Hogan said.

Street newspapers that aim to give homeless people jobs are used
in 40 other U.S. cities, according to the North American Street
Newspaper Association.

The street papers have their critics. Some see them as another
form of panhandling for the city's homeless, who number 4,600.

Mayor Laura Miller talked about banning panhandling this year but
has not pursued the idea. A ban could have put Endless Choices
out of business.

One Dallas man said selling the paper keeps him off the streets.
Billy Blair, 46, lost his job at a nightclub this year and said
he went through his savings faster than expected. He uses the
$150 he makes each week selling Endless Choices to buy a cheap
hotel room most nights. The security deposit, utilities and
higher rent of an apartment are out of his reach.

"It's an interim job until I find something better, and it keeps
me from depending on others for food or money for laundry," Mr.
Blair said.

He said Ms. Hogan, who often plops down on the sidewalk to talk
to the homeless, fills a vital niche.

"It's not just the paper that she does. I don't know anyone else
doing what she does," he said, noting the 150 coats Ms. Hogan
scrounged up when the cold weather hit. "A lot of the people who
come out to help the homeless don't really try to get to know
you. She does."

One of Ms. Hogan's trademark comments is: "When you see a
homeless person, they are there because something happened. If
they could do something else, they wouldn't be there."

That was the case with James Waghorne, who was homeless until Ms.
Hogan helped him. Now he works for the Dallas Metro Homeless
Alliance and recently moved into an apartment.

"I personally would not be where I am today if not for Clora's
courage, self-sacrifice and commitment to make a positive
difference in our entire community," Mr. Waghorne said.

She also exchanges e-mails with Ms. Miller, most recently on the
city's tentative plan to establish a homeless facility outside of

This year, Ms. Hogan prompted city officials to scrap a plan to
limit volunteer feeding of the homeless, and she brought national
homeless advocates to Dallas to review the city's handling of
those on the street.

Ms. Hogan operates from the Stewpot soup kitchen. It gives her
office space and, along with some other small benefactors, funds
her printing and materials costs. As is the case with so many
social-services organizations, those benefactors have given less
this year.

Preparing for an employee training session one recent morning,
Ms. Hogan expressed concern that she hadn't told her employees
yet about the possible demise of Endless Choices.

"I worry for the vendors who will have no way to legally earn
money. ... I worry about the many homeless people who have become
my friends. ... No one will be there to speak out for them," she
said. "I do feel we have made big strides in bringing awareness
... about the issues of homelessness, but we have so much yet to do."

E-mail kanderson@dallasnews.com
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