On today’s program: A Pittsburgh journalist tells the stories of families wounded by the opioid crisis; a Hazelwood support group helps families of kids with autism; Pittsburgh prepares to honor slain Officer Calvin Hall; how Youngstown tracks health issues close to fracking sites; and a Lawrenceville nonprofit teaches residents about their housing rights.
Giving a face to the opioid epidemic
(00:00 — 12:29)
In his new book, “Hope and Heartbreak: Beyond The Numbers of the Opioid Epidemic,” longtime Pittsburgh journalist Scott Brown explores the personal impact of the opioid crisis on families left behind when loved ones die from over use.
“We hear the statistics, we see the numbers, but we need to know what’s behind the numbers, [so that] we can empathize with people that are dealing with this, and I think that goes a long way too towards breaking the stigma,” says Brown.
Brown spoke to families, law enforcement, coroners, activists and those in recovery to present a full picture of the effects of opioids on a community. He focuses on several parents of opioid victims—including Carmen Capozzi and Michelle Schwartzmier—and explores their journey after tragedy.
Hazlewood organization supports families of autistic children
(14:05 — 17:42)
For minority families and people in economically disadvantaged areas, finding community resources around autism or even obtaining a diagnosis can be difficult. Jamie Upshaw, whose son is autistic, saw a gap in resources for African American families in Hazelwood, so she created her own support group—Autism Urban Connections. She says the group aims “to provide education, support, advocacy and empowerment, with an emphasis on self-care to parents and caregivers of those diagnosed with autism."
90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort spoke to Upshaw about how her organization helps families find the assistance they need.
How Pittsburgh honors an officer killed in the line of duty
(17:47 — 23:35)
Pittsburgh Police Officer Calvin Hall will be laid to rest this week. Hall was off duty Sunday, July 14 when he was shot in the back three times at a block party outside a friend's house while trying to break up a fight in Homewood. Hall died of those wounds Wednesday. He was 36 years old.
Tribune-Review reporter Megan Guza attended a solemn "End of Watch" ceremony shared by police and community members outside the North Side's Zone 1 station Sunday. The display was emotional, she says, and likely to stay with his many brothers- and sisters-in-arms headed into the city this week to pay their respects.
— Ariel Worthy (@airreeulll) July 21, 2019
A public visitation for Hall is scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. Monday at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland. His funeral begins there at 11 a.m. Tuesday with burial in Homewood Cemetery to follow.
Tracking the correlation of health concerns and fracking
(23:36 — 28:41)
While the growth in fracking has brought new economic development in some communities, it's also bringing new health concerns for people who live near gas infrastructure. The Allegheny Front's Julie Grant spoke with the Ohio Health Registry in Youngstown about keeping tabs on the health impacts of fracking.
Lawrenceville United hopes to educate residents about housing rights
(29:08 — 38:41)
Nonprofit advocacy group Lawrenceville United is hosting a "Housing for All" event with sessions on housing law for homeowners and renters from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at their Upper Lawrenceville offices.
“One of the things that I think we’ve become a little more attuned to in the last couple years is those long-time homeowners and those low-income seniors," executive director David Breingan says. "They’re being exposed to a lot of pressure from investors and flippers."
Breingan says he's concerned older residents might be unaware of the value of their property, leaving them vulnerable to bad deals. Other sessions for older homeowners include primers in tangled-title assistance, estate and property violations and home repairs.
For renters, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts will offer a panel about navigating the details of landlord-tenant housing court cases. Breingan says evictions are a problem in the neighborhood.
“We’re seeing [eviction] in particular being used against single-parent households with school-age children," he says. "So when we think about who’s being affected by displacement in the neighborhood, it’s really affecting our kids, which is tragic, and we want to make sure that we’re preserving a neighborhood that can keep those families.”
90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.