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Episode 3: Houseless


When the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States, it landed here, in the Pacific Northwest. Transmission is a podcast about life at the heart of an epidemic. 

Today’s episode: Houseless. In this episode, Transmission teams up with the Outsiders podcast.  

Many of us are trying to figure out the new dynamic of working from home. For some of us, this is a very lonely endeavor and for others there may be too many people to share already limited space. Parents with work deadlines are stuck at home with children who need attention and help with schoolwork. 

We can’t escape to the coffee shop around the corner, or hop on Wi-Fi at the library. For people with shelter, these closures are inconvenient but not life threatening. But they are for people who are homeless.

KNKX’s Will James recently visited Olympia, Washington, where he’s been reporting from for the past year for his podcast series.

Will says Olympia is like so many cities right now: dead. What really surprises him is that the Community Care Center is closed. This is where homeless people can use a bathroom, take a shower, do laundry, pick up mail, meet with caseworkers, or just get out of the elements. There’s also a free medical clinic there.  

“Usually the day center itself is packed with people sitting on couches and sitting on the floor, waiting for their laundry, waiting to use the shower, waiting to use the bathroom," Will said. "But there is no one here right now. It’s totally empty. The gate is closed. I’m wondering where people are going to use the bathroom, where they’re going to wash their hands.” 

In this episode, we’ll explore what living through a pandemic is like for the homeless — an already very vulnerable population.

We’ll hear what health care officials are doing to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19 when people are on the move.

And, how does social distancing happen in a community that doesn’t have physical doors to close and safe spaces to hang out in?

We want to hear from you. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your life? Let us know by recording yourself on a voice memo app on your phone, and emailing it to us at 

And please consider giving Transmission a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. 

Listen on AppleSpotifyGoogleStitcherand NPR One.

Other News Coronavirus CoverageTransmission
Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.
Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.
Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.