Saturday afternoons in Hollywood leave little to be desired. With hustle and bustle, the tourists and traffic, there are plenty of other places to be in Los Angeles than the city’s answer to Times Square. But if you’ve stumbled out the Metro at the Hollywood and Vine stop in the past couple of months and have seen musicians busking, it’s been for reasons deeper than just trying to make it in the big city.
Matt Faulkner and Eric Brown recently started Howlin’ for the Homeless, a charity that will use discarded RVs and convert them into comfortable shower and wash vehicles. Their design includes an area where people can do laundry, hang out and crack wise with others. The ambitious effort seeks to help the homeless folks in Los Angeles have a quiet place to get cleaned up.
“We’ve had a lot of experience hanging out with homeless people and befriending them,” Faulkner says. “A lot of the homeless want to live on the street, so through talking to them, we realized what basic necessities people are lacking.”
As a touring musician, Brown is accustomed to life in an RV. Having lived in one for the past three and a half years, he developed the idea while on the road with his dogs. He also determined busking can be a sustainable way to make a living, as he can tour the country with no support because of little overhead.
Faulkner and Brown say every little amount, including the money they make as buskers, helps to raise the necessary funds to purchase and convert an RV. According to Brown, a 30-foot RV from a police auction could run as low as $350, and with his experience working with and restoring RVs, he says the transformation to build out and maintain a vehicle in this capacity isn’t as pricey as one would expect.
“Ninety percent of the people walking by completely ignore what you’re doing,” Faulkner says. “But then you’ll find that one person who didn’t expect to be walking down that street and hear a song they like and it touched them. You’d be surprised at how many people that happens to.”
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In the eight weeks since the operation began, EasyFriend, SLUGS, Hydro Kitten, Jill Sobule, Ramonda Hammer and Jim Long have taken time to busk for the cause. “A lot of artists playing in a venue in town, their egos are just too big to take their show to the streets and play for free,” Faulkner says. “Bringing street performing back in that raw sense is super-exciting.”
So far, they’ve raised funds in the four figures. As word has gotten out about Faulkner and Brown’s Hollywood-and-Vine sessions, Howlin’ for the Homeless has started to receive donations online as well (go to www.howlinforthehomeless.com). While the first batch of funds will allow the two to buy their initial RV and get the renovations going, they need to raise more to build out shower stalls and to get the vehicle registered with the DMV.
“We just want to give people a place where they can come and get themselves together,” Brown says. “We want to make it a place where people can come and freshen up, and maybe then talk to somebody about getting a job or any help they need.”