Holly J. McDede has spent over four years as a reporter for KALW public radio, producing in depth, sound rich audio pieces on everything from a reunion for former Alcatraz inmates to mental health training for police to efforts to reform the state's sex registry. During that time, she's also led KALW's training programs for high school students, and worked as an editor and producer on the breaking news desk at KCBS radio. Now she is an on-call producer and reporter with KQED, where she files daily news stories and produces The California Report.
Take a look at the national staffing crisis among substance use disorder counsellors across the state, and spend time with a supervisor who started out as a group counsellor making $19 an hour.
Meet West Oakland Punks with Lunch, a group that's been providing sandwiches, cookies, syringes, and lifesaving services for unhoused residents in the community.
Meet an outreach manager who worked at the Tenderloin Linkage Center, and a former guest at the center who wishes more people considered the humanity of unhoused people struggling with addiction.
“It’s like a scene from a bad movie where people are trying, and trying, and trying until someone pulls them off,” said one hotel staffer, describing the day one of the guests fatally overdosed.
Fentanyl had saturated the city’s drug supply. But it seemed too easy to blame fentanyl when people in nearby counties were not dying at the same rates.
About 400 unhoused people stay at Hotel Whitcomb, and many deal with substance use disorders. That means staff who work at the hotel are fighting to keep guests alive.
The philosophy of harm reduction spread internationally when activists and caregivers sought ways to reduce suffering and health risks during the AIDS crisis in the '80s.
The new site opened amid mounting pressure on city leaders to reduce open-air drug use and skyrocketing overdose deaths in the neighborhood.
Those dying from drug overdoses in the city are now disproportionately African American. What changed and why?