April 17, 2020

On today's show, Adrian and Ethan continue their discussion of homelessness. Later we listen to Part 2 of Adrian's earlier interview with Positive Tomorrows, a nonprofit elementary school that serves homeless children and their families.

Thanks to our listeners for all the positive comments following our last episode. Continuing our discussion from last week, we look at the collision of two public health crises…homelessness and COVID-19.

According to Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, many unsheltered people—including about 80 percent of unsheltered women—suffer from a serious medical condition, poor mental health, and drug addiction all at once.

Homeless Teenager
Homeless Teenager

Unhoused people are already among the most vulnerable and sick in society, and now they’re physically incapable of following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most basic virus-fighting directive: stay home. It’s almost impossible for the homeless to maintain social distance. Shelters don’t have the kind of space recommended by the CDC.

As we saw in the news earlier this week, more than 90 residents and 10 staff members at San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter have tested positive for coronavirus. The outbreak at the MSC South shelter is believed to be the largest reported outbreak in a single shelter in the country.

In Las Vegas, people are sleeping in parking lots, confined to white painted rectangles spaced six feet apart. In California, an estimated 2/3 of the homeless population lives outdoors. Many not-for-profit organizations that offered services to the unhoused were forced to close.

Shelters that used to allow people to congregate during the day closed their doors. Places that would otherwise be helpful for hand washing and showering, like libraries or recreation center gyms, are now closed throughout the country.

This brings us to the second part of our interview with the Oklahoma school, Positive Tomorrows…

Positive Tomorrows began in 1989 as a collaborative effort of community organizations that recognized the educational needs of homeless children were not being met. Today, Positive Tomorrows is a private, tuition-free elementary school meeting the educational and social service needs of homeless children and their families. @positivetomorrows

Their mission is educating homeless children and their families to break the cycle of poverty. As Oklahoma's only elementary school specifically for homeless children, they give kids stability and a quality education while their parents get the support they need to create a better life. Since 1989, they have filled their scrapbooks with countless success stories.

*** UPDATE: Their case managers are working with our families to help them keep and maintain stable housing as well as helping them look for employment if they have lost their jobs during this time. Their teachers are working on a distance-learning plan so that they can continue to provide education to students that takes into account some of the unique circumstances of our families’ access to internet and technology. They will still be providing critical food and home/hygiene items to their kids and families.

Adrian had the opportunity to talk with Susan Agel, the President of Positive Tomorrows about their unique and forward-thinking approach in tackling the unique challenges these students face.

April is Autism Awareness Month

In 1970, the Autism Society launched an ongoing nationwide effort to promote autism awareness and assure that all affected by autism are able to achieve the highest quality of life possible.

This year’s theme is the Autism Society’s “Celebrate Differences” campaign. The goal is to build a better awareness of the signs, symptoms, and realities of autism, #CelebrateDifferences and focuses on providing information and resources for communities to be more aware of autism, promote acceptance, and be more inclusive in everyday life.

According to the CDC, prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 54 births.

The Autism Society of America launched a Facebook Live series dedicated to providing relevant, COVID-19 information for the autism community. The weekly broadcast will feature an expert discussing specific topics like mental health, federal emergency funding, and financial planning.

Autism Awareness Month
Autism Awareness Month