Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jewel has joined forces with Housing Authority Insurance's (HAI, Inc.) ReThink initiative to raise awareness regarding the public housing crisis in the United States through the "Why Housing Matters" song contest.
More than two million people live in public housing in this country, but the demand for public housing is far greater than that. Because of challenging economic times and federal budget constraints, there are not enough public housing units to meet the growing number of families in need.
“There are simple things in life we take for granted, like having a safe and stable place to live, and some people don’t realize that public housing offers more than a roof over someone’s head," Courtney Rice, HAI, Inc. Corporate Communications and Branding Manager, said in a statement.
"Public housing is a home, it builds community, and it provides services to people like you and me."
In New York City, for instance, the housing authority is not accepting Section 8 voucher applications due to having over 100,000 people on the waiting list. Other cities have closed their waiting lists, or have tens of thousands of people waiting for a public housing vacancy. According to ReThink, there are at least half a million people on public housing waiting lists across the country.
In addition to spreading the word about the lack of public housing units, Jewel and ReThink also want to change the public's perception of who lives in public housing.
A ReThink survey, "Perceptions of Public Housing 2013," found that 83% of Americans believe that all U.S. citizens deserve a safe and decent place to live, yet 63% do not support public housing in their own neighborhoods, and 52% would not want to live near a public housing unit.
Public housing fosters community-building, allows working parents to break the cycle of poverty, and is a godsend for countless families on the brink of homelessness.
Jewel's personal experience with poverty, hunger, and homelessness spurred her involvement in the ReThink "Why Housing Matters" campaign. This is her second year as the organization's ambassador.
“I’m so honored to have the opportunity to continue to work with ReThink to raise awareness for people who may not have a stable place to live," Jewel said in a statement. "ReThink is an important initiative that inspires people to think differently about the importance of home."
The multi-platinum artist will create a special song about the meaning of home for the "Why Housing Matters" contest, but she needs the help of the American public.
- Simply visit www.ReThinkHousing.org before May 14, and submit up to 100 words describing why housing matters to you.
- Entries will be evaluated by judges based on the following criteria: Creativity of entry, meaningful impact of home on the entrant’s experience, and positive and inspiring content. In addition, the public will be allowed to vote for its favorite entry.
- A combination of the judges' decision (75%) and public vote (25%) will determine the 10 finalists and a grand prize winner from among the 10 finalists.
- Jewel will use the 10 finalists' entries as inspiration for her song, and the grand prize winner will be flown to Los Angeles to meet Jewel and hear her perform the "Why Housing Matters" song they helped her create!
"I’m truly looking forward to gathering perspectives and inspiration about what your home means to you, and turning it into a song that I hope will help shed light on this important cause,” Jewel said.
Watch the video above to hear more from Jewel on the heartening ReThink initiative, and visit www.ReThinkHousing.org to view amazing videos from real people who are benefiting from public housing.