Jewel, the once-homeless singer-songwriter wrote "Home to Me" to support the ReThink public housing initiative. The song is inspired by an online contest that drew hundreds of submissions. She unveiled the track online Tuesday, where it's available as a free download. She also performed it live at The Mint nightclub for an intimate audience of public housing administrators and residents.
"I love that it's a public awareness campaign," she said in an interview before taking the stage. "We're not asking people for money. We're asking them to rethink."
The majority of public-housing residents are children, veterans and the elderly, she said. More than 2 million low-income families and individuals are served by public housing, but ReThink says the need is much greater.
Jewel could have used public housing help when she became homeless at 18. She said her boss at the time withheld her check when she refused to sleep with him. She couldn't pay her rent and lived in her car until it was stolen.
"It was just a very vicious poverty cycle," she said.
She turned to writing and music to lift her spirits. She was performing at a coffee shop when she was discovered. The first song she ever wrote became her first single: "Who Will Save Your Soul?""I always crowd-source song inspiration," she said. "It's really about what I see around me."
Jewel is planning to release the album next fall. But for now, she's giving away her latest song for free.