Music

Pearl Jam raise more than £8m for homelessness organisations in Seattle

The native rock band played two shows at the US city’s Safeco Field to “help alleviate homelessness”

Pearl Jam PA

Rock band Pearl Jam have made a noise about “alleviating homelessness” with two huge Seattle gigs that raised $11m (£8.6m) to tackle the rising number on the streets in their home city.

The grunge veterans, who were formed in the US city in 1990 after growing from genre pioneers Green River, inspired 160 businesses, gig-goers and foundations to band together to raise the cash as part of their Home Shows Initiative.

The proceeds from the Safeco Field shows went to dozens of homelessness charities across Seattle, where homelessness levels are the third worst in the US with more than 12,000 residents officially homeless.

Lead singer Eddie Vedder, addressing the crowd, said: “This city of Seattle could prove to the rest of the nation that it could happen here and it could happen anywhere and we can eradicate this problem of homeless neighbours in our city when we’re as profitable as we’ve ever been. It’s a wave and all of us are the water.

He added: “We all got together and started having conversations and elevating the discussion. Empathy became action, and in a very short amount of time, we were able to raise $11 million – as a starting point – to eradicate what is a complex issue. And it is a complex issue.”

Pearl Jam, who are known for hits like Alive and Jeremy, are now calling on their fans to contact elected officials, ask employers and support people on the streets to tackle the issue.

But the band are not the first to bang the drum – or gong – about tackling homelessness in Seattle.

Street paper Real Change, who are part of the same international network as The Big Issue, hit a gong 6,320 times in June in protest at a council u-turn on the Employees Hours Tax. Approved just a month previously, the tax would apply to big businesses like Amazon and Starbuck to generate $47m (£37m) for housing and homelessness services.

The council has also faced criticism for their ‘Find It, Fix It’ app that started out life as a way to report civic issues but has morphed into a means to eject homeless people from areas of the city.

Image: PA

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