12/27/2011 12:03 EST | Updated 02/26/2012 05:12 EST

Hope in Shadows calendars selling out

A calendar sold on the streets of Vancouver by homeless and low-income people has made record sales in 2011.

Paul Ryan, the director of the Hope in Shadows calendar project, said there are fewer than 500 calendars remaining from the 17,000 that were printed.

"There's a strong support in the greater Vancouver community [for] people who are going out there and and working for themselves to earn money," Ryan said.

More than 200 people from the mixed-income neighbourhood sold the calendars from pre-approved street vending locations for $20 each.

The vendors earn $10 per calendar sold, and they gain invaluable face-time with other Vancouverites, Ryan said.

"Maybe they haven't been working for a while and they don't have this connection, and they find that when they go out there and talk to people — the members of the public — they can talk about their lives, talk about what they're doing and they gain a lot of confidence by doing that," he said.

The 13-month calendar, which is curated from submissions made by locals, features portraits of people and scenes from the Downtown Eastside.

More than 200 cameras were distributed this year, and in June more than 4,000 photos came back to the Hope in Shadows project for the calendar competition.

Ryan said the calendar's views into one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods, through the eyes of those who live there, makes it a particularly unique collection of artwork.

"It's a community project photography contest. A lot of people who are selling the calendar actually took the photos that are in the calendar," Ryan said.

The 2012 calendar marks the ninth year of the charitable project. In its first year, just 1,500 calendars were sold.

Ryan said he's not sure when the project will peak, as the number of calendars sold has increased every year.

Excess proceeds from this year's calendar will go to pay for legal aid lawyers for Downtown Eastside residents, he said.