OKC Magazine To Help Homeless Turns Attention To Panhandlers

Tuesday, October 7th 2014, 5:43 pm

A video of an Oklahoma City panhandler getting into a new car has gone viral and sparked outrage across the country. 

10/3/2014 Related Story: OKC Panhandler Confronted After Being Seen Driving New Car

But there are better ways to help the homeless. One, which has become very successful here in the metro. The Curbside Chronicle is a street magazine sold by homeless people. You can recognize the vendors by the green vests they wear.

Marcos Powell has been selling the Curbside Chronicle since they started the program back in July of 2013.

“I'm the very first vendor,” said Powell.

But only in March did he start doing it full-time.

“A month later I got myself a place,” he said.

News 9 first reported on the magazine the week it launched.

7/6/2013 Related Story: New Street Paper In OKC Helps Homeless

Since then, circulation has doubled and more importantly: “Every vendor who has sold consistently has been able to afford housing,” said Whitley O'Conner, who started the magazine.

Lanitra Owens, the other vendor we introduced you to in the first story, has now moved into housing, got a job at Walmart and is taking classes to start doing taxes at the beginning of the year.

“I wish more would do it,” said Powell.

Recently, editors of the magazine and the Homeless Alliance launched an initiative to encourage panhandlers to stop asking for money and start working for it.

“I don't believe in panhandling, I think it's stupid, you know work for yours you know,” said Powell.

“If you're flying a sign saying will work for food, we've got a job for you,” said Dan Straughan, executive Director of the Homeless Alliance.

O'Connor said it's easy to become a vendor.

“They actually buy the magazines from us, so they're small business owners really,” said O'Conner. “Then sell at an increased price to make a profit.”

Marcos has even started writing for the magazine. And said this job has led to new one he plans to start soon.

“He passed by and bought a magazine, he'd been seeing me for the past couple weeks I guess he figured I was a good worker.”

The Homeless Alliance has cards they are asking community members to hand out the panhandlers instead of money with information on how to become a Curbside Chronicle vendor.