The Homeless Chorus Speaks Coming to PBS
(I was thrilled when PBS invited me to the screening of their new documentary, the Homeless Chorus Speaks. Sadly, I was busy in Anaheim at Expo West. Luckily, my good friend Melanie from LA Explorer headed out to the Beverly Hills premiere for me. Read all about the film from her! xo, Mary)
California is a wonderful place to live but it’s far from perfect. Especially when it comes to the housing market. Prices have skyrocketed all over that state leaving a large portion of the population struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego are are seeing a large increase in the homeless population with little solution in sight. Luckily, there are good people out there trying to help those that are struggling. Last week, I attended the Los Angeles Premier of The Homeless Chorus Speaks and it was a moving experience.
San Diego is California’s laid back city by the sea and many people associate it with sunshine and surfing. Unfortunately, it’s also home to a large homeless population that is growing. It’s an expensive city to live in and more and more of its residences can’t afford a roof over their heads. Steph Johnson and Nina Leilani, two local musicians, observed this epidemic first hand, decided they needed to do something to help those struggling and founded Voices of Our City Choir.
Voice of Our City Choir offers those struggling to find housing a chance to be part of a community and escape their troubles. For a few hours they can play instruments, sing and create beautiful music. Inspired by their efforts, filmmaker Susan Polis Schultz began to document their stories and the result is The Homeless Chorus Speaks.
In the film 14 member of the choir tell their stories. A common misconception about the homeless is that they’re lazy, addicted and/or crazy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, we’re all just one step away from homelessness. Each and every one of us is just one illness, injury or lay off away from losing everything. All of the people Schultz interviews are highly intelligent, hard working individuals who would give anything to have a home again.
Watching The Homeless Chorus Speaks I experienced a range of emotions from heartbreak to fear (that it could happen to me) to compassion to, ultimately, hope. Thanks to Steph and Nina those without homes in San Diego are getting another chance at happiness. Their voices are being heard and positive changes are on the horizon.
Of course, the homeless crisis is far from over but it’s gratifying to know there are those out there fighting the good fight. The Homeless Chorus Speaks is necessary viewing for anyone struggling to make a difference and I’m much better for having seen it.
The Homeless Chorus Speaks runs on KPBS Thursday March 22 at 8:30pm and will be broadcast on various PBS stations around the country through May.