On August 20, 1994, the first issue of Real Change, Puget Sound's Newspaper for the Poor and Homeless, hits the streets in Seattle. It is sold for $1 by licensed vendors who are, for the most part, themselves poor and homeless. Vendors keep 75 percent of sales proceeds. Originally a biweekly, the newspaper began publishing weekly on February 2, 2005.
Real Change was inspired by similar "street newspapers" such as Chicago's StreetWise and New York City's Street News. The tabloid was founded by Timothy Harris, a community organizer who moved to Seattle in 1994 from Boston, where he had founded the Spare Change homeless newspaper two years earlier. Seattle's version was launched with the aid of Ishbel Dickens, Ozula Sioux, and other volunteer staffers.
On October 1, 2000, Real Change published its 100th edition, having sold an estimated 2.5 million copies to date. The newspaper's parent non-profit organization, Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project, also sponsors Belltown's StreetLife Gallery, StreetWrites, Homeless Speakers Bureau, and MacWorkshop in order "to place a human face on homelessness and poverty."
The newspaper expanded its staff and commenced weekly publication on February 2, 2005.