MetroFocus: July 8, 2020

The Broadway League has announced a further delay to the reopening of shows on the New York stage. Initially shut down through April 12, then through June 7 and then through September 6, all Broadway productions will now stay on hold, offering refunds and exchanges, through January 3, 2021. The League, whose members include Broadway theater owners and producers, as well as presenters of touring shows around the country, will also undertake a sweeping audit of diversity in the industry in response to the unrest over racial injustice that is sweeping the nation. Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin takes us onstage, backstage and in the many offices that power the productions for a look at the new face of Broadway.

Everyone has been impacted by the pandemic, but people facing homelessness are more susceptible to coronavirus and are also likely to get much sicker or die than people who are stably housed. And one group among them, in particular has received little attention: kids and young adults who are managing through the pandemic on their own. Youth facing homelessness are also at greater risk because they are still developing physically, cognitively, psychologically, and emotionally, and often lack health insurance, resulting in health problems going unchecked, medication being beyond their reach, and even minor untreated infections morphing into a major health emergency. Covenant House in NYC alone shelters around 300 of these kids a night. Covenant House NY executive director Sister Nancy Downing discusses the risks for kids experiencing homelessness on their own, her concern about the coming spike in youth homelessness, and how Covenant House is continuing to serve youth through the pandemic.

TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA CHERYL AND PHILLIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

BERNARD AND BERNICE SCHWARTZ, DR. ROBERT C AND TEEN NO FUND FOUNDATION.

FUNDING FOR CHASING THE DREAM IS PROVIDED BY THE JPV FOUNDATION.

ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR CHASING THE DREAM IS PROVIDED BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

IN MARCH THE LIGHTS ON BROADWAY WENT OUT AND THE THEATERS HAVE REMAINED DARK SINCE THAT TIME.

HOWEVER, RECENTLY THERE'S BEEN AN INDICATION THAT BROOTD WAY IS LOOKING FORWARD TO OPENING THE DOORS, TURNING THE LIGHTS BACK ON AGAIN AROUND THE BEGINNING OF JANUARY OF 2020.

QUESTIONS ARISE, WILL THAT IN FACT HAPPEN?

IF IT DOES AND WHEN IT DOES, WHAT WILL THE PRODUCTIONS LOOK LIKE AND FEEL LIKE INSIDE THOSE THEATERS.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE WITH US TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF QUESTIONS -- MARTIN PRESIDENT OF THE BROADWAY LEAGUE.

THE BROADWAY LEAGUE IS THE NATIONAL TRADE ASSOCIATION FOR THE BROADWAY INDUSTRY.

CHARLOTTE.

WELCOME TO YOU, DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

GREAT TO BE HERE TO TALK ABOUT MY FAVORITE SUBJECT.

IT IS MINE INDEED, ALSO.

SO LET'S START WITH YOUR LEVEL OF OPTIMISM THAT THE JANUARY REOPENING DATE CAN INDEED BE REALISTIC FOR US.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

WELL, I WOULD CONSIDER MYSELF TO BE CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC AT THIS STAGE.

WE HAVE HIRED A TOP INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT.

WE'RE WORKING WITH TOP HEALTH OFFICIALS AND SCIENTISTS IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK -- THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO THE GOVERNOR FOR HELPING US MAKE THOSE CONNECTIONS.

WE'RE LOOKING AT EVERY SINGLE THING.

IN THE LAST MONTH WE FINALLY GOT NEWS THAT SAID, IF THIS IS POSSIBLE, WE'VE ANNOUNCED JANUARY 3rd AS THE NEXT DATE BY WHICH WE'LL GIVE REFUNDS AND EXCHANGES FOR TICKETS.

THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE'RE OPENING JANUARY 4th.

THOUGH WE HOPE TO OPEN SOON THEREAFTER.

THE CONVERSATIONS ARE GOING ON THAT IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF THE YEAR WE PLAN TO BE BACK UNLESS WE GET SOME KIND OF BAD NEWS.

EACH DAY YOU LEARN NEW THINGS THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE DAY BEFORE OR THE WEEK BEFORE.

SOMETIMES THAT'S GOOD AND SOMETIMES THAT'S NOT SO GOOD.

WE'RE CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC TO GET BACK.

THE FIRST QUESTION HAS TO DO WITH THE ECONOMICS AND HOW MUCH MONEY IS BEING LOST EACH WEEK WHILE THESE THEATERS ARE SHUTTERED.

CAN YOU GIVE US AN ESTIMATE OF WHAT DOLLARS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT?

LOOKING AT THE LAST COUPLE YEARS WE'RE LOSING AN ESTIMATE OF $35 MILLION A WEEK JUST ON TICKET SALES.

THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ALL OF THE OTHER REVENUE SOURCES BASED ON US BEING OPEN AND FUNCTIONING AT THE LEVEL WE WERE FUNCTIONING.

WE PROVIDE AN ECONOMIC IMPACT FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ALMOST $15 BILLION.

THAT MEANS THE CITY OF NEW YORK IS LOSING A BILLION, TOO.

THOSE ARE BIG DOLLARS AND LOTS OF JOBS THAT AREN'T WORKING BECAUSE WE'RE NOT OPEN.

WE KNOW BROADWAY, I'VE SEEN IT DESCRIBED AS A COLLECTION OF SMALL ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESSES, IF YOU WILL, IN TERMS OF PRODUCERS AND ALL THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN GETTING A SHOW UP AND RUNNING.

IN LOOKING AT -- YOU MENTIONED THOSE LOSSES.

HOW ABOUT THE FINANCIAL IMPACT ON PERFORMERS AND THE CREW.

DESCRIBE FOR US HOW DEVASTATING THAT HAS BEEN FOR THEM.

WELL, BROADWAY IS SHUT DOWN.

NOBODY IS WORKING EXCEPT FOR THE FEW PEOPLE THAT HAVEN'T BEEN FURLOUGHED IN OFFICES.

IN MY OFFICE WE FURLOUGHED 40% OF OUR STAFF.

WE'RE TRYING TO GET BROADWAY BACK UP.

THE ACTORS, THE STAGE HANDS, THE MUSICIANS, ALL THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE BROADWAY WORK ARE NOT WORKING, AND IT IS DEVASTATING.

I MEAN WE HAVE A VERY STRONG LOBBYING ARM AT THE BROADWAY LEAGUE AND WE'VE BEEN LOBBYING FOR EXTENSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR ALL THE WORKERS, EXTENSION OF HEALTH BENEFITS FOR ALL OF THE WORKERS, AND WE'RE ALSO LOBBYING FOR STIMULUS PACKAGES TO HELP US WHEN WE DO GET BACK UP BECAUSE WE KNOW THINGS WON'T BE THE SAME.

EVERYONE HAS DEVASTATED.

THE HARDEST THING ABOUT THIS TIME PERIOD IS THERE AREN'T JOBS FOR PEOPLE TO GO DO.

AT LEAST BROADWAY FOR YEARS, THE ACTORS AND THE PEOPLE THAT WORK ON BROADWAY THAT MIGHT NOT BE WORKING RIGHT NOW COULD GO AND DO OTHER THINGS.

BUT THEY CAN'T EVEN DO THAT RIGHT NOW.

IT'S A VERY UNHEALTHY ENVIRONMENT FOR EVERYONE'S ECONOMICS.

WE KNOW THIS ISN'T EXACT.

WE KNOW THE LIGHTS WENT OUT.

THERE WERE A NUMBER OF WONDERFULLY SUCCESSFUL SHOWS ON BROADWAY AT THE TIME AND SOME MORE THAT WERE ABOUT TO SHOW UP.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE YET WHICH OF THOSE WILL BE COMING BACK AND THEN HOW ABOUT THOSE THAT WERE SCHEDULED TO OPEN UP DURING THIS PERIOD, WHICH OF THEM MIGHT INDEED BE GOING AHEAD WITH THOSE OPENINGS.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OF THAT INFORMATION, HARD INFORMATION YET?

I DO, I DO.

THIS IS ONE OF THE BRIGHT SPOTS.

I'M HAPPY TO SHARE THAT.

WE'VE ONLY HAD THREE SHOWS SAY THEY WILL NOT BE BACK WHEN BROADWAY REOPENS.

TWO OF THOSE SHOWS WERE SHOWS THAT HAD NOT OFFICIALLY OPENED YET BUT WERE IN PREVIEWS.

AND THEY WILL NOT BE COMING BACK.

IT WAS 'WHO IS AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF' AND 'THE HANG MAN.'

THE DISNEY SHOW 'FROZEN' IS NOT RETURNING.

IT WAS A LONGER RUNNING SHOW.

WE HAVE ABOUT 20 NEW SHOWS THAT OPENED THIS SEASON ALREADY.

TWO HAD JUST OPENED THE PREVIOUS WEEK, 'WEST SIDE STORY' AND 'THE GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY.'

WE HAD 16 MORE SHOWS TO OPEN IN THE FOLLOWING SIX WEEKS AND WE ONLY KNOW OF THOSE TWO THAT WON'T BE COMING BACK AT THIS FO FOINT: THE JANUARY DATE MAY BE MAKING PRODUCERS THINK TWICE ABOUT WHETHER THEY CAN KEEP THE CAST TOGETHER AND KEEP THINGS TOGETHER.

SO FAR THE NEWS IS GOOD.

I THINK WE'RE GOING TO GET MOST OF THEM BACK.

THAT'S WONDERFUL NEWS, AS A MATTER OF FACT, AT A TIME WHEN WE NEED TO EMBRACE GOOD NEWS, I THINK EVERYBODY WOULD AGREE WITH ME THAT'S A LOT OF GOOD NEWS FOR US TO INDEED EMBRACE.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THEN COMING BACK.

I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE QUESTIONS ARE, WHAT WILL THINGS LOOK LIKE, WHAT WILL THEY FEEL LIKE?

WE KNOW THERE ARE A WIDE VARIETY OF SAFETY PROTOCOLS THAT PEOPLE ARE SUGGESTING.

I KNOW YOU HAVE SOME 22 TASK FORCE GROUPS I BELIEVE WORKING ON THINGS SUCH AS SAFETY PROTOCOLS, MARKETING, ALL THOSE OTHER ELEMENTS OF REOPENING.

WHAT IS YOUR SENSE SO FAR AS TO WHAT TYPES OF SAFETY PROTOCOLS MIGHT COME INTO PLAY ONCE THE THEATERS REOPEN?

THAT'S THE HARDEST QUESTION TO ANSWER BECAUSE THE INFORMATION CHANGES DAILY.

WE'RE JUST LEARNING THAT THE AEROSOL EFFECT IS 30 FEET, NOT SIX FEET.

THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING.

WE CAN GUESS THAT WE'LL BE IN MASKS FOR A WHILE.

SOME SAY A YEAR.

SOME SAY TWO TO THREE YEARS.

I HOPE NOT.

IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES, I'LL BEWARING A MASK.

I THINK YOU CAN EXPECT DIFFERENT INGRESS AND EGRESS ROUTES INTO AND OUT OF THE THEATER, AS MANY CONTACTLESS THINGS WE CAN DO, WHETHER IT'S CONTACTLESS TICKETING OR FAUS SETS IN THE RESTROOMS OR STOIL LET'S.

I THINK YOU CAN EXPECT THE CONCESSION STANDS, THE SERVERS TO HAVE ON MASKS AND GLOVES AND TO SERVE YOU IN PAPER CUPS TO BE DISCARDED SO THERE'S NOT MUCH HANDLING.

ONE OF THE AREAS WE'RE REALLY STUDYING IS THE AREA OF THE HVAC SYSTEMS.

THERE'S A LOT OF DISAGREEMENT ABOUT WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN.

THAT'S PROBABLY BECAUSE SOME OF OUR BUILDINGS ARE 100 YEARS OLD.

THEY'RE GLORIOUS.

THEY'RE HISTORIC, THEY'RE LANDMARKS.

BUT THEIR AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM MAY BE MORE DIFFICULT TO REPLACE.

SOME EXPERTS ARE SAYING THEY THINK THE NEW HEPA FILTERS WILL TAKE CARE OF IT.

OTHERS ARE SAYING YOU HAVE TO REPLACE THE ENTIRE SYSTEM.

WE'RE LOOKING AT ALL OF THAT.

THE GROUPS STUDYING IT ARE LOOKING AT EVERY SINGLE THING ABILITY THAT.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE SEATING ARRANGEMENT WITHIN THE THEATERS.

WE HEARD, FOR INSTANCE, WITH REGARD TO PROFESSIONAL SPORTS OR EVEN COLLEGE SPORTS THE NOTION OF, ALL RIGHT, WE'LL USE DISTANCING WITHIN THE ARENAS, WITHIN THE STADIUM, SPREAD PEOPLE OUT.

WE KNOW THAT BROADWAY HAS A VERY DIFFERENT FINANCIAL MODEL THAN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS.

IS THAT NOTION OF USING EVERY FOURTH SEAT, LET'S SAY, IN A THEATER, SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY WORKABLE?

IT IS NOT FOR BROADWAY.

THE FINANCIAL MODEL JUST DOESN'T WORK.

WE HAD FOUR OF OUR DIFFERENT SIZE THEATERS ACTUALLY DO A FLOOR PLAN SHOWING TRUE SOCIAL DISTANCING, AND THE BEST CASE SCENARIO WAS THAT 27% OF THE SEATS COULD BE FILLED.

THAT WILL NOT PAY THE BILLS, NOT EVEN COME CLOSE.

WE HAVE THE BEST THEATRICAL EMPLOYEES IN THE WORLD, THE BEST DESIGNERS, THE BEST EVERYTHING, BUT THEY'RE ALSO THE MOST EXPENSIVE.

SO TO SOCIALLY DISTANCE -- EVEN THE AUDIENCE WE'D HAVE TO BREAK THE MODEL AND RESTART.

LOWER RENT IN THE THEATERS, LOWER FEES TO DESIGNERS, LOWER WAGES, AND THAT'S NOT A MODEL THAT ANYONE IS EXCITED ABOUT LOOKING AT.

EVEN IF YOU COULD SOCIALLY DISTANCE THE AUDIENCE, THE CAST AND CREW, THOSE ARE SMALL BACKSTAGE AREAS FOR THE MOST PART, AND THE INABILITY -- THE TEN-SECOND COSTUME CHANGES IS JUST IMPOSSIBLE.

SO THERE HAS TO BE MEDICAL SOLUTIONS.

THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS GIVING US CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE'RE LEARNING.

THERE'S NOW THE 15-SECOND TEST THAT'S VERY RELIABLE.

IF YOU COULD TEST EVERY CAST MEMBER EVERY DAY, SAY AT 9:00 IN THE MORNING, YOU FIND OUT WHETHER THEY'RE ALL WELL, THEN YOU COULD FEEL COMFORTABLE THAT THEY COULD GO ON AND PERFORM.

THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT WE'RE INVESTIGATING AND THAT WE HOPE WILL ENABLE US TO GET BACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

I HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF FOR US TO CHAT.

WE KNOW BROADWAY WAS HAVING JUST A MAGNIFICENT YEAR.

I THINK I SAW THE BEST YEAR EVER IN THE LAST YEAR OR SO.

LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR LEVEL OF OPTIMISM.

WE STARTED THIS CONVERSATION WITH YOUR LEVEL, LET'S START WITH YOUR LEVEL OF OPTIMISM.

WILL WE GET BACK THERE?

HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE BROADWAY TO GET BACK THERE?

I THINK WE'LL BE BACK.

THERE'S SOMETHING MAGICAL ABOUT THE SHARED EXPERIENCE OF SITTING IN AN AUDIENCE AND CRYING AND LAUGHING AND EXPERIENCING THE JOY THAT BROADWAY PROVIDES.

I WOULD BE UNREALISTIC TO THINK WE COULD ACCOMPLISH WHAT OUR LAST SEASON DELIVERED WHICH IS 14.8 MILLION THEATER GROWERS, WHICH IS MORE THAN ALL TEN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAMS PUT TOGETHER DELIVER.

THE ECONOMISTS WE'RE LISTENING TO ARE TELLING US THAT TOURISM FOR NEW YORK CITY AND TRAVEL FOR NEW YORK IS MOST LIKELY GOING TO SLOWLY RAMP UP, AND WE MIGHT BE BACK THERE BY THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2024.

THAT'S A FRIGHTENING THING TO THINK ABOUT BECAUSE THE MARGINS ARE SLIM ON BROADWAY.

BUT WE'LL BE BACK.

THAT'S THE BEST NEWS WE CAN HEAR.

SO MANY FOLKS ARE BROADWAY FANS.

TO HEAR FROM YOU ESPECIALLY THE SHOWS THAT ARE COMING BACK AND TALKING ABOUT OUR ESTIMATES OF WHEN IT MIGHT HAPPEN ARE CERTAINLY SOMETHING THAT ARE REAF REAFFIRMING FOR US.

ONCE AGAINST OUR THANKS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE BROADWAY LEAGUE.

CHARLOTTE, MY HOPE IS I'LL GET TO SEE YOU IN A THEATER SOME TIME SOON.

HOPEFULLY.

WITH VERY A LOT OF GREAT ONES COMING BACK.

YOU BE WELL.

LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING AGAIN.

THANK YOU, JACK.

THANKS FOR COVERING US.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JACK FORD.

AS THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS CONTINUED ITS ASSAULT ON OUR SOCIETY, ONE GROUP IN PARTICULAR HAS BECOME VERY VULNERABLE, AND YET AS VULNERABLE AS THIS GROUP IS, IT'S NOT RECEIVING THE RIGHT ATTENTION AND THE PROTECTION AND THE ASSISTANCE THAT IT REQUIRES.

THAT GROUP IS THE YOUNG HOMELESS, TEENAGERS, YOUNG ADULTS, PARTICULARLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE DANGERS OF THE CORONAVIRUS.

COVENANT HOUSE WHICH IS THE LARGEST PRIVATELY FUNDED AGENCY IN THE COUNTRY DEALING WITH YOUNG HOMELESSNESS HAS BEEN IN THE FOREFRONT, FOR MORE THAN FOUR DECADES, DEALING WITH MORE THAN 1 MILLION YOUNG HOMELESS PEOPLE, WE'RE PLEASED TO HAVE JOINING US SISTER NANCY DOWNING, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COVENANT HOUSE NEW YORK.

SISTER NANCY JOINS US AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE EXAMINING POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

SISTER NANCY, WELCOME.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME TODAY.

LET'S START OFF WITH A BACKDROP FOR OUR CONVERSATION.

BY ME ASKING YOU TO GIVE US A NUMBER, GENERAL NUMBER OF HOW MANY YOUNG HOMELESS PEOPLE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IN THE COUNTRY, IN THIS COUNTRY AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

IT'S ESTIMATED IN ANY GIVEN YEAR ON AN ANNUAL BASIS, WE'LL SEE 4.2 MILLION YOUNG PEOPLE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 13 AND 24 EXPERIENCE HOMELESSNESS, 4.2 MILLION.

I CAN'T EMPHASIZE THAT ENOUGH BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS.

THEY THINK THEY CAN JUST GO BACK HOME TO THEIR PARENTS.

IT'S JUST NOT THE TRUTH.

I THINK THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION TO MAKE.

THERE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS WITH THEIR FAMILIES, AND OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS ALONE.

THAT NUMBER YOU JUST GAVE US, IS THAT THE NUMBER YOU JUST GAVE US THE NUMBER OF THEM THAT ARE HOMELESS ALONE.

YES.

THEY'RE ALONE.

DON'T HAVE AN ADULT WITH THEM.

LET'S TALK ABOUT COVENANT HOUSE, THEN WE'LL GET INTO SPECIFICS.

WHAT TYPES OF SERVICES ARE PROVIDED?

WE'RE BEST KNOWN FOR PROVIDING SHELTER TO YOUNG PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS AND YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN TRAFFICKED.

I THINK MORE THAN SHELTER WE PROVIDE ALL THE BASIC NEEDS FOR A YOUNG PERSON.

WHEN THEY COME THROUGH OUR DOOR WE'RE FIRST ASKING THEM, DO YOU NEED SOMETHING TO EAT?

DO YOU NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER?

DO YOU NEED FRESH CLOTHING?

DO YOU NEED TO JUST SLEEP FOR A WHILE AND THEN TALK WITH US ABOUT SOME OF THE OTHER NEEDS.

WE'RE FOCUSING ON NOT JUST THE BASIC NEEDS, FOOD, SHELTER, CLOTHING, THOSE KIND OF THINGS.

WE'RE LOOKING AT MEDICAL NEEDS.

MANY OF THEM HAVEN'T SEEN DOCTORS IN A LONG TIME AND HAVE HEALTH CARE ISSUES FROM BEING OUT ON THE STREETS HOMELESS.

MANY HAVE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, EITHER FROM THE TRAUMA OF BEING HOMELESS OR THE TRAUMA OF HAVING VIOLENCE IN THEIR FAMILIES OR IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS OR THEY COME WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES NOT RELATED TO HOMELESSNESS BUT EXACERBATED BY HOMELESSNESS.

EDUCATION SERVICES ARE REALLY CRITICAL.

MANY OF THEM HAVE BEEN DISCONNECTED FROM EDUCATION.

WE TRY TO GET THEM EITHER BACK INTO SCHOOL OR INTO GED CLASSES.

OBVIOUSLY EMPLOYMENT SERVICES ARE CRITICAL AS WELL.

IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON YOUR OWN, YOU NEED TO HAVE A WAY OF EARNING MONEY TO BE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND STILL MAKING SURE THAT THEY HAVE EMPLOYMENT IS A CRITICAL NEED AS WELL.

IN ADDITION TO THOSE SERVICES WE OFFER LEGAL SERVICES, YOUTH DEVELOPMENT SERVICES AND A WHOLE HOST OF OTHER THINGS WE DO FOR THEM WHEN THEY'RE WITH US.

ON AN AVERAGE, HOW MANY YOUNG HOMELESS PEOPLE WILL BE WITH YOU IN COVENANT HOUSE NEW YORK ON A PARTICULAR DAY?

RIGHT NOW WE HAVE OVER 300 YOUNG PEOPLE STAYING WITH US.

WE HAVE ABOUT 130 STAYING WITH US IN OUR SHELTER.

WE HAVE ABOUT ANOTHER 100 YOUNG PEOPLE THAT ARE IN OUR TRANSITIONAL LIVING PROGRAMS WHERE THEY CAN LIVE FOR UP TO TWO YEARS.

AND THEN WE HAVE CLOSE TO 100 IN PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING WHERE THEY LIVE IN APARTMENT SETTINGS WHERE THEY'RE LEARNING TO LIVE ON THEIR OWN WITH THE SUPPORT OF COVENANT HOUSE.

I MENTIONED IN OUR INTRODUCTION THAT THIS IS A GROUP THAT'S PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE.

WHY IS THAT SO?

LET'S FOCUS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HERE.

WHY IS THIS GROUP, YOUNG HOMELESS PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE, BOTH MEDICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY?

FIRST OF ALL, WHEN YOU'RE HOMELESS AND ON THE STREETS, YOU DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD TO EAT.

SO YOU'RE NOT EATING HEALTHY.

YOU DON'T HAVE A SAFE PLACE TO SLEEP SO YOU'RE NOT SLEEPING WELL IF YOU'RE SLEEPING AT ALL.

YOU DON'T HAVE A PLACE TO CLEAN UP OR WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY.

IN THE PANDEMIC, EVEN MORE SO YOU DON'T HAVE THE BASIC THINGS YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO SHELTER-IN-PLACE.

WHEN FOLKS ARE TOLD TO STAY HOME, THEY DON'T HAVE A HOME TO STAY.

WE'RE SPEAKING ONCE AGAIN WITH SISTER NANCY DOWNING, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT COVENANT HOUSE NEW YORK.

WHAT ABOUT THE ENHANCED SUSCEPTIBILITY OF THE HOMELESS IN GENERAL, IN TERMS OF BEING IN HOMELESS SHELTERS AND IN HOMES, HOW DOES THAT ALL PLAY OUT?

I THINK WHAT WE LEARNED AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THIS VIRUS IS WE HAD TO PROVIDE -- NORMALLY WE HAVE THREE TO FOUR YOUNG PEOPLE IN A BEDROOM, AND SO WHAT WE DID WAS WE CLOSED DOWN OUR OFFICES AND MADE THEM INTO BEDROOMS SO WE COULD MAKE SURE EACH YOUNG PERSON HAD SIX FEET OF DISTANCE IN THEIR BEDROOMS, SO WE HAVE MAYBE TWO OR THREE YOUNG PEOPLE IN A BEDROOM SO WE'RE GIVING THEM MORE SPACE, NOT MAKING THEM MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE VIRUS WHEN THEY'RE IN OUR SHELTER.

WE WANT THE SHELTER TO BE A SAFE PLACE FOR THEM TO BE.

WE DON'T HAVE A BIG CONGREGATE ROOM WHERE THEY'RE ALL STAYING.

THERE ARE SEPARATE BEDROOMS, TWO OR THREE IN A BEDROOM WITH SIX FEET BETWEEN THEM.

IN OUR GENERAL SPACES, WE ARE MAKING SURE THAT THEY'RE WEARING MASKS, KEEPING SIX FEET OF DISTANCE, THE SAME WITH OUR STAFF.

ALSO, WE'RE CLEANING, ENDLESSLY CLEANING THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

YES EVEN PURCHASED ONE OF THE ELECTROSTATIC SPRAY GUNS TO BE ABLE TO SPRAY DOWN LOCATIONS LIKE THEY DO IN THE HOSPITALS TO MAKE SURE WE'RE GIVING EXTRA CLEANLINESS TO THESE SPACES TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF BOTH OUR STAFF AND OUR YOUTH IN OUR SHELTER.

ONE OF THE THINGS WE'VE SEEN FREQUENTLY WHEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS, STAYING AT HOME, IS THE NOTION -- THE IDEA OF BEING HOME WITH FAMILY AND SHARING WHAT IS A DIFFICULT EXPERIENCE, BUT YOU HAVE FAMILY TO SHARE IT WITH.

WE'VE HAD PEOPLE ON OUR PROGRAM TALKING ABOUT PSYCHOLOGICALLY THAT CAN BE SO SUPPORTIVE FOR PEOPLE IN TIMES OF CRISIS.

SO WHAT THEN DO WE SEE WITH THESE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE FAMILY TO SHELTER WITH?

SO OUR STAFF ARE HAVING LOTS OF CONVERSATIONS WITH OUR YOUNG PEOPLE.

OUR RESIDENT ADVISERS ARE MEETING FREQUENT WITH THEM, OUR CASE MANAGERS.

WE ALSO HAVE A LARGE NUMBER OF SOCIAL WORKERS.

FOR YOUNG PEOPLE FINDING THIS PARTICULARLY TRAUMATIZING, WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT FROM AN EMOTIONAL STANDPOINT, THEIR EMOTIONAL HEALTH IS WELL CARED FOR.

WE HAVE OUR SOCIAL WORKERS ON CALL PRETTY MUCH AROUND THE CLOCK SO IF A YOUNG PERSON IS GOING THROUGH SOME KIND OF TRAUMA REACTION, THAT THERE'S SOMEBODY THERE THEY CAN TALK TO.

OUR STAFF ARE REALLY DOING A WONDERFUL JOB OF BEING PRESENT TO THEM, JUST SITTING AND LISTENING TO THEM, HAVING LISTENING SESSIONS.

OUR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT TEAM IS ALSO WORKING WITH THEM.

SOMETIMES IT'S OVER JUST A CASUAL CONVERSATION.

SOMETIMES IT'S OVER A CARD GAME.

SO WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE THINGS PRETTY NORMAL FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE, AS NORMAL AS WE CAN.

SO HAVING GAME NIGHTS, WAYS WE'RE INTERACTING THAT ARE MORE PLAYFUL AND FUN BUT IN SMALLER GROUPS WHERE THERE'S SIX FEET OF SEPARATION BETWEEN US.

THERE'S LOTS OF LITTLE GROUP INTERACTIONS HAPPENING.

WE HAVE ARTWORK -- ART CLASSES HAPPENING WITH THEM TO GIVE THEM THAT AS AN OUTLET.

MUSIC TO GIVE THEM THAT AS AN OUTLET, SOME WRITING WITH A VIRTUAL WRITING TEACHER WHO COMES SO THAT FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO FOR POETRY IS A DESIRE FOR THEM OR A TALENT FOR THEM, I SHOULD SAY, THEY HAVE THOSE OPPORTUNITIES.

BUT TRYING TO REALLY MAKE THINGS AS NORMALIZED AS WE CAN FOR THEM AND OFFERING THOSE SPACES WHEN THEY HAVE THOSE MOMENTS WHERE THEY REALLY FEEL THEY NEED TO TALK SO THEY HAVE SOMEWHERE TO SHARE WHAT THEIR CONCERNS ARE.

HAVE YOU SEEN AN UPTICK IN THE NUMBER OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE COMING TO YOU IN THE LAST COUPLE MONTHS SINCE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS STRUCK?

WE'VE SEEN A PRETTY STEADY FLOW OF YOUNG PEOPLE COMING IN.

WE HAVEN'T HAD TO TURN ANYONE AWAY BECAUSE OF SPACE, SO WE STILL HAVE BEDS AVAILABLE.

WE'RE FEELING WE'RE VERY FORTUNATE IN THAT WAY.

THE CONCERN IS IN THE MONTHS TO COME, IF THE ECONOMY DOESN'T TURN TO THE BETTER VERY SOON, WE PROBABLY WILL SEE MANY MORE YOUNG PEOPLE COME TO US AS WE DID WITH THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN BACK IN 2008.

THAT'S THE CONCERN GOING FORWARD, IS THAT WE MAY SEE A HUGE INFLUX OF YOUNG PEOPLE NEEDING OUR SERVICES.

SO WE'RE TRYING TO PREPARE FOR THAT AS WELL.

WOULD YOU HAVE CURRENTLY THE ABILITY, THE FACILITIES, THE WHEREWITHAL, TO HANDLE AN INCREASE, A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE OF PEOPLE COMING TO YOU?

IT WOULD CERTAINLY BE A CHALLENGE FOR US.

WE HAVE THE ABILITY -- WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF A BUILDING PROJECT AS WELL AT THIS MOMENT.

WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF BUILDING A NEW FACILITY.

THE ONE THAT WE'RE IN IS RATHER DATED.

SO IT WILL BE A BIT OF A CHALLENGE FOR US.

WE WILL CERTAINLY DO EVERYTHING WE CAN AND WORK WITH OTHER PARTNERS THAT WORK IN THIS FIELD TO MAKE SURE EVERY YOUNG HAS A SPACE TO BE A SAFE SPACE WHEN THEY NEED IT.

YOU MENTIONED EARLIER THAT SOME OF THE THINGS YOU DO ARE PREPARING THESE YOUNG PEOPLE TO GET THEM BACK OUT INTO THE WORLD.

BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT WORLD IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE AND WE DON'T KNOW WHEN ANYBODY CAN TRULY GET BACK OUT INTO THAT WORLD.

SO HOW DOES THAT UNCERTAINTY IMPACT THE WORK THAT YOU ALL ARE DOING?

THE DIFFICULTY IS MOST OF THESE YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VERY TRAUMATIZED IN THEIR SHORT LIVES.

SO THIS IS JUST ADDING A LAYER OF TRAUMA TO THEM.

MANY YOUNG PERSONS WHO HAVE GOTTEN INTO THEIR OWN APARTMENT, THEY'RE ABLE TO BE ON THEIR OWN, SO THEY WORKED HARD TO GET TO THAT PLACE AND SUDDENLY THE CARPET IS RIPPED OUT FROM UNDER THEIR FEET AND THEY'VE LOST THEIR JOB NOW.

SO WE'RE DEALING WITH SOME OF THAT TRAUMA THAT'S HAPPENING FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE, THEY WERE JUST GETTING GOING.

AND THEN THEY LOST THE GROUND THEY FELT THEY GAINED.

WORKING WITH THEM IN SAYING, OKAY, THIS IS A MOMENTARY SETBACK.

LET'S LOOK AT WHAT'S THE NEXT OPPORTUNITY THAT'S GOING TO BE AVAILABLE FOR YOU AND WORKING WITH EMPLOYERS OUT THERE TO SAY, LET'S NOT FORGET OUR YOUNG PEOPLE OUT THERE.

SO UNFORTUNATELY RIGHT NOW IT'S SORT OF A MIXED BAG, GETTING YOUNG PEOPLE EMPLOYMENT RIGHT NOW, THE EMPLOYMENT THAT'S AVAILABLE IN WAREHOUSES AND SUPER MARKETS AND THOSE TYPES OF PLACES THAT NEED ADDITIONAL STAFFING, AND SO WE'RE ABLE TO GET YOUTH SOME EMPLOYMENT THERE, BUT WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT WHAT'S THE FUTURE GOING TO BRING.

THE LAST DOWNTURN OUR YOUTH WERE VERY NEGATIVELY IMPACTED.

THEY COULDN'T EVEN GET ENTRY LIFL JOBS AT, SAY, McDONALD'S.

WE'RE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THAT.

WE HAVE OUR EMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST OUT THERE RIGHT NOW TRYING TO WORK WITH THE EMPLOYERS, AS THE EMPLOYERS TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S NEXT.

BUT IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT NOT TO FORGET TO YOUNG PEOPLE AS THE ECONOMY TURNS BACK HOPEFULLY TO THE POSITIVE.

LAST QUESTION.

FOR ANYBODY WATCHING AND LISTENING TO OUR CONVERSATION AND UNDERSTANDS YOU'RE PRIVATELY FUNDED AND SAY THIS IS A GOOD CAUSE, HOW CAN THEY HELP?

WELL, CERTAINLY THEY CAN GO TO COVENANTHOUSE.ORG, THERE'S A DONATION LINK ON THERE IF THEY WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT US.

THAT'S ONE WAY TO HELP.

WE DO SEVERAL SLEEP-OUTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

WE'VE HAD TO GO TO DOING VIRTUAL SLEEP-OUTS.

THEY CAN ORGANIZE FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO DO A SLEEP-OUT IN THEIR BACK YARD AND RAISE FUNDS THAT WAY.

IF THEY WANT TO GO TO SLEEPOUTAMERICA.ORG, WE HAVE THE TOOLS AVAILABLE FOR THEM TO LEARN ABOUT YOUTH HOMELESSNESS.

IT'S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO RAISE FUNDS FOR HOMELESS YOUTH.

SISTER NANCY, AGAIN, WONDERFUL WORK BEING DONE BY COVENANT HOUSE.

CHALLENGING WORK CERTAINLY IN THIS CHALLENGING TIME.

WE APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING TIME TALKING TO US.

GOOD LUCK AS YOU MOVE FORWARD.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COVENANT HOUSE NEW YORK.

YOU BE WELL, SISTER.

TAKE CARE.

YOU, TOO.

TAKE CARE.

BYE-BYE.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM THE THIRD, SUE AN A AND SIMON B ANTI-SEMITISM.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKER BURKE, JANET PRINTEDAL SIDE HER, CHERYL AND PHILLIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C AND TINA SONE FOUNDATION.

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