Community impact: how Street Roots helps Portland’s homeless earn a living with dignity

July 23, 2018 / Idaho

This story was originally written by Uber NW Community Impact Initiative Portland partner Street Roots. The story has been adapted.

Every week, Street Roots works with 170+ individual vendors who are homeless and/or experiencing poverty to help them earn an income by selling a weekly newspaper for a profit. By purchasing papers and keeping the profit for basic needs, these individuals create community with their customers who are able to earn an income with dignity.

Transportation is one of the biggest barriers Street Roots vendors have faced as they expand sales sites into places like East Portland, Hillsboro, and Beaverton. The time it takes vendors on public transit to get to these locations could be better spent selling newspapers and building relationships with customers.

Thanks to the Uber NW Community Impact Initiative, Street Roots is able to support more than a dozen vendors traveling to remote locations, with dozens of others benefiting from rides through the program. All participating vendors have seen an increase in sales, as well as major reductions in transit time (as many as 10 fewer hours per week for some vendors) thanks to the $10,000 in rides provided to Street Roots.

One of those vendors is Cory McKelvey, a lifelong Oregonian, who is also blind. By using Uber, he has ventured out to places he wasn’t familiar with. “Uber has lent itself well to helping me try different spots. I have no hesitation to take on any location within the city itself, or even outlying areas as long as I have  Uber.”

He also emphasized what a difference the human element has made: “Not only do I get from point A to Point B, but it’s with a personable, open, available driver who’s willing to go the extra distance to see to it that I’m safely and comfortably getting to the location.”

We’re proud to stand with and support organizations like Street Roots as they help combat homelessness and enable  individuals to make a living with dignity.

In 2018, the Uber NW Community Impact Initiative has donated over $600,000 in financial assistance and rides to 45+ nonprofits across the region. For more information, visit