About Us

StreetWise exists to elevate marginalized voices and provide opportunities for individuals to earn an income with dignity. Anyone who wants to work has the opportunity to move themselves out of crisis.  StreetWise provides “a hand up, not a handout.”

How it all began...

It’s hard to believe that the first edition of StreetWise hit the streets of Chicago on August 24th, 1992. Our founder, Judd Lofchie, found a practical solution to the crisis of homelessness in Chicago. The idea was simple: give homeless individuals a chance to regain personal dignity and help themselves by selling a newspaper to earn an income rather than beg. More than 350 homeless individuals purchased and sold more than 60,000 issues of StreetWise within the first 5 weeks! Just like that Chicago joined the street paper movement.

StreetWise Magazine

StreetWise Magazine is an award-winning publication that gives a voice to those who experience homelessness, poverty, injustice, and inequality, along with features about Chicago life and culture. It is a member of the International Network of Street Papers and the Chicago Independent Media Alliance. 

 Its staff have received numerous national, state, and local awards for the quality of StreetWise articles, its service to the homeless population of Chicago, and its importance to the community in general. 

Magazine Vendors

Selling StreetWise Magazine provides a flexible employment opportunity. It is a job. Our vendors are self-employed microentrepreneurs who build relationships and create connections between and across communities that change perceptions about homeless and low-income individuals. The vendors earn money to pay for transportation, phones, housing, utilities, clothing and medicine. 

 S.T.E.P. to Employment 

S.T.E.P. is our employment preparation and placement program that helps individuals get ready for a job, get a job, and keep a job. Our customized approach helps eliminate barriers and overcome obstacles to traditional employment. 

Supportive Services

StreetWise is a community that honors the dignity of each individual. We assist with basic needs by distributing emergency and seasonal clothing, hygiene kits, PPE, pre-packaged meals and pantry items.  Staff are available to assist with access to community resources and benefits, referrals for housing, healthcare or legal assistance, and providing emergency support.  

StreetWise is Empowering People to Work!

In March 2020 StreetWise became part of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s portfolio of comprehensive human services.