Meet Your Vendor: Ishmael Pearson

Photo/Robert Gumpert

Ishmael Pearson is a 33 year old San Francisco native and a vendor for the Street Sheet. He currently lives in section 8 housing in the Tenderloin, not far from our office. He’s lived there for about five years. Before finding a home in the Tenderloin however, he was homeless. Suffering from schizophrenia for many years, Ishmael found it difficult to sustain permanent housing. At this point, his two main sources of income are his SSI disability and the money he makes selling the Street Sheet. His rent in the Tenderloin makes up a third of his monthly income, which is the case for many San Francisco residents. Ishmael sells the Street Sheet a couple times a week but as per popular demand wants to start selling it more. His regular customers often encourage him to get out as often as he can, which is really motivating for him, considering many vendors are scarcely greeted with the same enthusiasm. He reflected on a time before Street Sheet vendors wore badges and he was cited for selling the Street Sheet. Now he can show them his badge and they’ll leave him alone.

Despite struggling with his health, Ishmael was still able to acquire an education. He obtained two degrees, one in liberal studies and one in child development. He feels as though his education has been put on hold, but feels excited about taking the next step toward finding a career.

“The Street Sheet benefits me a lot gives me an allowance to eat with. It allows me to survive. I want to keep this as a job. I went to school all my life. Now it’s time for me to further my education. I want to be in the classroom and I want security in my life. Don’t settle for what you don’t want in your life. If you really want it, it’s really worth working for.”