Street Beats, a music production pilot program created by Covenant House Pennsylvania, aims to help homeless youth gain confidence, develop critical life skills, and express their creativity and emotions in a supportive environment. Created with a Building Healthier Communities grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Street Beats empowers youth to create musical beats, write their own lyrics, record their songs, and perform. The Street Beats studio uses high-quality audio equipment including an Apple iMAC desktop, midi keyboard, and drum machine, and recording interface to capture each artist’s creativity.
A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development survey in January found nearly 560 homeless youths living in emergency and transitional housing in Philadelphia. An additional 55 youths were living on the streets. Covenant House Pennsylvania offers the only beds in Philadelphia designated for homeless and trafficked young people aged 18 to 21, including those with young children and babies. This year, more than 700 young people will find stability and sanctuary at Covenant’s 76-bed residential center, which offers a full array of supportive services including health, behavioral health, education, and vocation.
Street Beats is the brainchild of outreach coordinator, Carl Hill, who has been working at Covenant House for seven years. Carl helps residents create their beats or fine-tune their verses. He also designs photos and graphics for their songs and coordinates listening sessions at Café Armat, where the Covenant House holds weekly gatherings for residents to sing, dance, rap, and express themselves creatively.
Recently, KYW news radio reporter Cherri Gregg visited Covenant House to see Street Beats in action. Her story can be heard here.