An easy, actionable way to let President Trump know you're paying attention.

Put on your active citizen hat because the Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking public comments on a proposed rule.

First, a little background.

In October 2016, HUD published a final rule, "Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual's Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs."


It ensures people have equal access to HUD programs and shelters funded by HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) regardless of their gender identity. It's actually an expansion of a 2012 rule that provided equal access to shelters and programs regardless of sexual orientation.

Sounds good so far, right?

‌A person walking by an East Harlem public housing complex. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images. ‌

The rule is great but only if people — especially those seeking emergency shelter or resources — know it exists.

As part of the rule, HUD is proposing owners and operators of CPD-funded buildings, housing units, and shelters post this rule in public places in their facilities (like bulletin boards and in the lobby) where people can see it. HUD would provide the content of the notice and the owners would just have to print it out and post it. HUD estimates the task will take six minutes.

‌Just print and post. That's what HUD is suggesting. Photo by Newburyport Public Library/Flickr.‌

Here's where all of us come in. HUD is seeking public comment on four things:

1. Whether the printout is necessary and useful.

2. Whether the six-minute estimate is accurate.

3. How to improve the quality, usefulness, or clarity of the document.

4. How to minimize the burden on people required to print out the document.

If you believe it's a good idea for HUD shelters and housing units to post this information, you can submit your comments electronically or by mail until Feb. 23, 2017.

Think giving feedback on something like this is trivial and unnecessary? Ask the genderqueer teen living on the streets who needs a place to crash and doesn't know if they're welcome at a local emergency shelter. Ask the transgender woman who was worried she'd be denied access to a home-buying program.

It may seem small, but to the individuals and families looking for resources and reassurance, it's significant.

‌Homeless grandmother Valencia Terrell arrives with her grandchild to stay temporarily at a friend's home in Atlantic City in 2015. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images. ‌

More comments and feedback on the issues and proposed policies let the administration know we are paying attention.

This is only the first week of the new administration, and President Trump and his team have set several potentially devastating plans into motion. There's the unsanctioned gag order at the USDA, the devastating executive action prohibiting U.S. aid groups from funding NGOs that advise on or provide abortions, revival of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, not the mention the promise to begin moving on his border wall.

‌President Donald Trump signs one of five executive orders related to the oil pipeline industry. Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images. ‌

You may not have the time or emotional energy to respond to every issue or proposal and that's OK.

With so much going on, it's easy to get discouraged and zone out. We have to persist. When we stop speaking up, reading, or getting involved, the administration's decisions go ignored and unchecked. There's just too much at stake to risk that.

Pick your issue: write a comment, make a call, attend a town hall, send a letter. Let Congress and Trump know you won't be silenced, bullied, or ignored. They work for us, and it's time they get a reminder.

‌People listen at a town hall meeting on Latin American and immigration policy in Los Angeles. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images. ‌

Get ready. Your active citizen hat is going to be on for a while.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less