As many long-time Denver residents may recall, the original Denver Voice was a grassroots newspaper created in large part by homeless people for homeless people. During its 10-year span, the paper went through numerous transformations and reincarnations, and in the spring of 2006 it temporarily ceased publication.
Several years ago, Rick Barnes, a Denver businessman and philanthropist, began having conversations with homeless individuals he encountered on his way to his office near the 16th Street Mall. Moved by their stories, he felt compelled to ensure that the voice of the homeless would once again be heard. He researched the operations of other street papers around the country and began to take the steps necessary to revive the Denver VOICE.
In June 2007, a new staff, comprised of journalists and artists, began working with Rick Barnes to revive and recreate the Denver VOICE. Our first issue was published in August, and we have been publishing a monthly issue since then.
The Denver VOICE, a nonprofit street paper, now reaches a much broader audience than the original paper, which primarily targeted the homeless population. The new paper is designed to be of interest to everyone who lives or works in Denver. This is not a political paper, and we do not use the VOICE to further a particular position on issues or policies. The paper is a true journalistic effort that presents well-researched coverage on issues related to homelessness and poverty. Additionally, the VOICE publishes editorials, personal essays, poetry and original art by people who have lived or currently are living on the streets.
Our vendor program is a critical component of the Denver VOICE. By offering employment opportunities to homeless individuals, we empower people by providing a source of income that can help individuals work their way out of homelessness. Our vendors are comprised of homeless individuals who buy the paper and vend the papers for a suggested donation. Until August 2011, vendors bought the paper for 25 cents and vended the Denver VOICE for a dollar donation to the public. In September, the price increased to 50 cents and $2, respectively. Within the first few weeks of beginning our vendor program, several vendors were able to make enough to get themselves off the streets and into housing and that has continued.