Newspaper sold by homeless feeling economic pinch

Kelly Sullivan

Spare Change News, a Cambridge-based newspaper sold by the homeless, is in a bad financial situation, according to the paper’s director of operations.

But despite rumors that the paper is set to shut down, Randy Eck, director of operations for the nonprofit, insisted that it will still be around.

“News of our death is greatly exaggerated,” Eck said. “It’s been really tight before and we’ve managed to get through.” Eck said that the paper, which has been published for 17 years, has been presumed dead “about 34 times.”

Spare Change, which was created in 1992, is part of the Homeless Empowerment Project. The homeless and low-income and unemployed people buy the newspapers for 25 cents each and then sell the newspapers on the street for $1.

“Sometimes it's not so bad, sometimes it's really bad,” he said, “but we make it through.”

Vendors said that they have seen a decrease in sales of the paper. Gregory Daugherty, who has been selling Spare Change for 15 years, said people are not buying the paper like they used to.

“I have people walk by and say ‘I’m just this close from being homeless myself,’” he said while selling the paper in Harvard Square. “A dollar is so hard to come by that people don’t want to give it up.”

Despite Daugherty’s observation, Eck said Spare Change’s circulation will increase from 7,500 to 8,500 within the next two weeks. He said that the increase is a natural part of the paper’s circulation cycle, with highest sales during the holiday season, and lowest in January, and when college students leave the city in May.