Nashville Homeless Paper Doubles Price And Publishing Schedule To Stay Afloat

Caraletter Fletcher lives at a women's shelter and has been selling The Contributor since May, when she relocated from Decatur, Ala. to Nashville to find work. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Caraletter Fletcher lives at a women’s shelter and has been selling The Contributor since May, when she relocated from Decatur, Ala. to Nashville to find work. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Newspapers sold on Nashville street corners by homeless and formerly homeless vendors will now cost twice as much. To stabilize its shaky finances, The Contributor has raised its price to $2 and decided to print issues every week instead of bi-monthly.

Some 400 salespeople have been buying the papers for a quarter and turning around to sell them for a dollar plus tips. It’s a standard model for so-called streetpapers, but it hasn’t produced enough income to fund the organization. Last year the paper threatened that it may have printed its “final issue.”

So now vendors will have to pay $0.75. While the sales force’s cut of the profits would increase, The Contributor is bracing for pushback, which is why it has agreed to print more often.

“New papers sell twice as fast,” says veteran Caraletter Fletcher, who moved to Nashville from Alabama last year to sell the paper. “Two weeks is hard on me. But if it came out every week? Hey, it would be good.”

The streetpaper in Seattle also raised its price last year to $2 – the first increase in its 20-year history.

Nashville’s homeless paper was founded in 2007 and quickly became one of the largest in the country. The price increase takes effect in April.

“Nashvillians have demonstrated a tremendous, sustained capacity to love and support their neighbors in need,” writes Contributor founder Tasha Lemley in a letter to supporters. “We don’t expect the price increase to extinguish that desire to help.”


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