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New Pittsburgh nonprofit looks to address gun violence reduction, trauma

Gene J. Puskar

On today’s episode of The Confluence: The Hear Foundation, a nonprofit, launches in Pittsburgh with the mission of reducing gun violence and the fallout from these incidents; how Allegheny County is addressing the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness which is at a 12-year high; and with a new ethane cracker plant opening, how might it impact regional waterways.   

Today’s guests include: Leon Ford, CEO, Leon Ford Speaks; and Gabriel Krivosh, Senior Manager, Services for Adults Experiencing Homelessness. 

Leon Ford, a victim of a police shooting, partners with retiring Police Chief Scott Schubert for a non-profit with the goal of community development
(0:00 - 8:21)

In 2012, 19-year-old Leon Ford was shot by Pittsburgh police and left paralyzed during a traffic stop. A decade after the incident, Leon Ford is partnering with retiring Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert and other community leaders on a project to improve community-police relations and address gun violence.

The Hear Foundation will work to foster cooperation between communities and law enforcement, while also providing resources intended to draw people away from violence. These resources include summer camps that will educate youth on mental health and develop safe passages for students to walk home from school.

Ford, who previously spoke out against Schubert and then-Mayor Bill Peduto, has built a strong relationship with the retiring chief. He now hopes that similar relationships can be fostered throughout the city.

“We can acknowledge our pain, we can work through the trauma, and then figure out innovative ways to move forward,” says Ford. “I believe [by] doing those three things and curating spaces we can build trust.”

The HearFoundation will not only focus on drawing youth away from violence. It will also focus on adults and the impacts that their collective trauma can have on a community.

New Shell ethane cracker plant’s potential impact on waterways
(8:25 - 14:54)

Shell’s ethane cracker plant along the Ohio River is expected to begin operating this summer. The plant will use natural gas to make tiny plastic pellets, which can wind up in waterways. The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant took a boat ride with people surveying the river for plastic.

Chronically homeless population at a 12-year high in Allegheny County
(15:04 - 21:55)

Data from Allegheny county’sPoint-in-Time homelessness count this year shows that the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness in Allegheny County reached a 12-year high. The county reported at least 284 individuals were experiencing chronic homelessness, an individual with a disabling condition who has been experiencing homelessness for at least one year.

The county identified total 880 people as homeless in the most recent count. However, the senior manager of services for adults experiencing homelessness in the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Gabe Krivosh says this is just a point in time count, and there are people that fall through the cracks. He encourages people to think of those experiencing homelessness as their neighbors.

“I think there's a tendency to think of people experiencing homelessness as outsiders, as people who have come here to try to access services. That is almost never the case,” says Gabe. “These are people who have grown up in Pittsburgh and in Allegheny County.”

The county’s newest low-barrier homeless shelter is slated to open in mid-September.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.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. 

I am a senior at Clarion University studying Integrated Journalism. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and enjoy covering Pittsburgh-related news.
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