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Street Roots prepares for expansion with purchase of new building

The nonprofit helps hundreds of people each year find income while struggling with homelessness, and plans to use the increased space to expand its operation.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Street Roots has purchased a new 6,000 square foot building in Old Town that will help the nonprofit expand the slate of services it offers to hundreds of houseless people in Portland.

In addition to supporting and advocating for houseless residents, the nonprofit separately publishes the weekly Street Roots newspaper and creates income opportunities for people who are struggling by turning to them to sell papers. The vendors purchase newspapers for 25 cents and sell them to the public for $1 and keep the difference.

The purchase and renovation of the Old Town building is an $8 million project, and when complete it will feature classrooms, a job training center, laundry services and showers. Street Roots executive director Kaia Sand said the organization is overdue for an expansion.

"We are really interested in how it can support a holistic approach where we are meeting fundamental needs, things people really need, but we are not forgetting that they dream," Sand said. 

Inside the building, vendors will also have access to an office where they can buy the newspapers, grab some coffee and visit the library. 

Brandon Hayward has been homeless for a decade and works with Street Roots from time to time. He's dealt with drug addiction for years. 

"They give us the opportunity and let us know what it's like to be somebody," Hayward said. "They start with a legit job and legit pay, we don't have to go out and steal from people in our addiction, we just sell papers and talk to people and get donations."

Street Roots plans to be completely moved into the building by November. The organization still needs another $1 million to cover the renovations and is currently fundraising to meet that goal. Donations can be made through the nonprofit's website.

Hayward has come a long way, and he credits his success to Street Roots. 

"I've been blessed, I'm cleaned up now, I've come a long way," Hayward said. "I'm not on meth, I sell Street Roots, and I smile everyday because of Street Roots."

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