Men of the Ridge Center, then the city's largest homeless shelter, formed the editorial board with women from the Woodstock Center.
Their job was finding a name for this new publication that sought to raise the awareness of those who had no home of their own and provide work for those needing jobs.
For an hour, they argued back and forth.
Then a man named Gerald started talking about his struggle to get out of the shelter. "It feels," he said, "like I'm always one step away."
And so on Dec. 15, 2009, the city's first newspaper by those without homes, written for those with homes, had its name:
One Step Away.
The paper celebrates its fifth year with an anniversary issue, which can be purchased with a $1 donation to the program's street vendors, identified by their yellow reflector vests.
On Monday, the vendors will mark the day with balloons - green stars that read "One Step Away," according to newspaper director Emily Taylor, who told the story of Gerald and the naming of the publication in its current edition.
"I think we're constantly growing as a grassroots nonprofit," she said. "We're now seeing growth in the amount of people we serve, and we're trying to find ways of making this more of a community newspaper." "
Most street vendors are homeless, living in a temporary shelter or with slight incomes. Many of them are One Step Away's writers.
Seventy-five cents of each $1 paper goes toward the vendors, while 25 cents helps to manage printing costs.
"We realized that the best way for people to avoid homelessness was to find ways to not get people there in the first place," Taylor said.
One Step Away received its first $1 donation from Dainette Mintz, director of the city Office of Supportive Housing. The staff relied on at least five vendors to distribute the first publications.
Since then, the presses have turned out roughly 650,000 copies of the paper.
One Step Away has provided work for more than 1,700 homeless and jobless people, and 85 percent of its vendors rely on the paper for employment.
It is a member of the International Network of Street Newspapers, which publishes 126 street papers worldwide, helping at least 14,000 homeless vendors.
Taliba Heyward, 30, hawks the paper near LOVE Park. Mondays are her slowest days for donations, but on Fridays, she said she can average $50.
She works on her slogans to get the attention of passersby. "Right now I mostly use, 'One Step Away, would you like to help out today?'"
She has another: "Holiday cheer, One Step Away is here," and then "One Step Away, help a family in need today."
Heyward has experienced poverty and poor wages since she was a teenager and has lived out of her car in Fairmount Park.
Meigan Dorr, 28, has been a part of One Step Away since last December. Her first article will be published in January - about redefining feminism in the 21st century.
"I take homelessness as a very serious issue, having survived it throughout numerous times in my life," she said. "You don't have to be a drug addict or someone who is mentally ill to be homeless."
Nearly five years ago, she was hit by a car, leaving her temporarily disabled and jobless. She is currently living in temporary housing and sells the paper at 15th and Market Streets.
"My hope," she said, "is to build a network with Philadelphia's citizens and residents that involves making everyone equal and involved."