Person Centered Housing Options, a non-profit in Rochester, is hosting a live streamed concert fundraising event through a Facebook “watch party” on their page. The event will feature performances from nine Rochester-area musicians and bands.
Each band will go live from their own Facebook page, and will provide a tip jar if they so desire, and PCHO will share the watch party from there. PCHO will also regularly share their donate link as well.
Most of the musicians participating will livestream from their own homes, but pop-soul-jazz powerhouse The Sideways will host a multi-camera stream – without an audience — from local venue Photo City Improv.
PCHO will also be showing their own videos showing their work.
This is not the first time that PCHO has done a down to earth fundraising event. Instead of pay-in galas or luncheons, co-founder Nicholas Coulter wanted an approach with more connection.
“The people that we serve are real people,” Coulter said. “They experience challenges, they’re everyday folks. We want to make PCHO something special for everyone.”
Coulter also says that this fundraiser is also meant to help performing musicians, who have no place to play until Phase 4 hits the Finger Lakes Region.
That connection is rooted in PCHO’s mission statement.
“We work with folks on the streets, provide them case management and outreach, and get them in houses as soon as possible.”
Person Centered Housing Options
Coulter founded PCHO along with Chuck Albanese in 2015, after a bad experience in 2014, when they saw a large group of homeless people under the Susan B. Anthony-Frederick Douglass Bridge.
“They were on the streets for a long time,” he said.
Those two would quit their jobs, and decided to make PCHO, using the “housing first model.”
“It’s simple,” Coulter said. “We move folks in without pre-condition… (But) it’s really challenging work. It’s not for every organization, you have to allow people to be themselves, human beings, have challenges, and make mistakes.”
“Just like good parents, when you watch you kids fall, you have to watch them pick themselves up.”
“You have to meet (these people) where they’re at and be really cognizant of what they’re going through,” said Hannah Briggs, Outreach Team member. “You have to focus on the way that hey want to do things is not necessarily what you thought was going to happen.”
Briggs says that the housing is truly unconditional. Unlike other services which might require someone to fill out a whole checklist — sobriety, for example — someone in PCHO doesn’t need to meet those criteria.
“This method just makes complete sense,” Briggs said. “When we realize that shelter is one of three basic human rights, there should to be a checklist before they have that right… It’s way more likely to be successful.”
Both Briggs and Coutler say the small victories, and the success stories are important and help them get through the day. Coulter recalls many people who were on the street for decades that they were able to house. One of the musicians playing in the livestream fundraiser, Kaiser Solzie, was even one of the their clients.
But Coulter is also proud to say that there is another big tangible impact from their work.
“We have seen a serious reduction in homeless on the streets,” he said. “When I was an outreach worker, I’d got to the Civic Center downtown, and I’d find 80, 90, 100 people sleeping in the basement. That’s just one place… But now we’re finding 10, 15 people.”
Coulter also says that whenever you’re out and about and see a homeless person, call them at 585-736-4663, or send them a direct message on Instagram and Facebook, so they direct their outreach.
The music & The Sideways
Joe Stehle is the lead singer, songwriter, and keyboardist with The Sideways. He became a full time musician at a very bad time.
“Right before COVID-19 hit, I decided I was going to make a go of being a full-time musician,” he said. “The month when everything went to crap, would have been the first month I could have supported myself through music.”
“I really nailed it with this one.”
That said, the band is doing the show only asking that people to donate PCHO.
But like many other musicians and bands, he’s at least had a chance to write some new music, and plan ahead for the future of livestreaming. But some of that has to happen with sensible rehearsals — which are much harder with a huge band like The Sideways — and livestream-only shows.
“We had to make a decision to allocate our resources,” he said. They have invested in multi-camera livestreaming gear. But rehearsals, especially leading up to this “audienceless” show?
“Everybody has been practicing their parts on their own, and we did one rehearsal with the rhythm section,” he said.
Going forward, they’re only planning on full rehearsals once a month, and are taking into account that fewer people will be willing to go out to live shows in the near future.
“You don’t feel safe gathering that many people together,” he said. “It’s scary, but at the same time, you can’t ask musicians not to create. It’s a tough decision to hop back into the saddle with all this stuff.”
Despite that trepidation, Stehle is actually looking forward to the prevalence of livestreaming in the music world. While he believes that in the future there will be a balance between live shows at venues and livestreamed performances, the greater access of livestreaming will give artists more control over the content they put online.
“Livestreaming culture is really healthy for musicians, look at what it’s done for video gamers,” he said. “They have patrons where they can make consistent money, Twitch and YouTube subscribers, and they even get donations while streaming.”
As they push forward into the livestreaming realm, they will be presenting the show in a multicamera stream.