Voices of Our City Choir
Changing the lives of our unsheltered neighbors through music.
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Do you know our History?
In the summer of 2016, San Diego’s homeless population was exploding. The removal of 10,000 affordable housing units had been removed to make way for upscale units, leaving the city’s most vulnerable citizens unsheltered.
Musician/Jazz vocalist, Steph Johnson noticed the suffering and began to organize outreach that brought food, clothing, blankets and friendship to people experiencing homelessness. Inspiration came from doing outreach and discovering that many people living on the streets were artists and musicians with no outlet.
It was during this time that she met Pastor Chris Nafis who offered his humble church as a meeting place for outreach and community building. Located in the “low bottoms” area of East Village in Downtown, the church was a worn-down metal warehouse that sat in the center of the homelessness crisis.
Earlier the same day, Steph met a woman living on the street who was a singer in a choir for the unsheltered in Chicago. Understanding the power of music and group singing, Steph had the idea to join together and have choral music making available to the people experiencing homelessness in the area. Serendipitously, Steph had just met a talented musician and choir director, Nina Deering. Nina then provided support and her skills to help Steph build what is now known as Voices of Our City Choir.
Photography by Michele Zousmer.