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In Frigid Temps, Local Organizations Focus On The City's Most Vulnerable

Gene J. Puskar
Pittsburgh is expected to experience single-digit temperatures over the next few days and sub-zero windchills.

The city's homeless population could face life-threatening conditions over the next few days as single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills settle in across the region

Dr. Jim Withers, founder and medical director of Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, and the group's street outreach director, Dan Palka, say they spend all year building trust with at-risk communities to ensure they'll feel comfortable asking for help during the winter months. 

According to Withers, many suffering from homelessness also suffer from mental illness and associated trauma that can hinder those relationships. Find more information about Operation Safety Net and a list of shelters here.

Credit Kevin Gavin / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Mayor Bill Peduto tells The Confluence that he expects legal challenges to legislation that would restrict certain firearms and ammunition in the city.

Elsewhere in the program, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is not backing down on legislative efforts to restrict some high-powered guns in the city, despite assertions of illegality, threatened lawsuits and a call for his impeachment. 

The proposed restrictions constitute "common sense legislation," Peduto says, that could help lay the groundwork for more comprehensive gun reform in the future.

“Every change that has occurred in this country has started at a local level, whether it was the right for women to vote, whether it was the civil rights movement, whether it was the end of slavery," Peduto says, "and I believe that gun reform will also start at the local level throughout the country, and then we will be able to get it.”

Under current state law, the proposed ordinance cannot be enforced. Peduto says he hopes to change this through challenges in the court system. 

“We have to make a decision," he says. "Either do nothing or challenge and say that this law is not just.”

And in 1893, Bertha Lamme became the country’s first female mechanical engineer. 90.5 WESA's Katie Blackley reports on how Lamme went on to work for Westinghouse Electric.

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 join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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