According to the OC Coroner’s office, 19 people died “without fix abode,” homeless in Orange County in August, they are: Dimas ROMERO (who died in Garden Grove on August 1), David HARRIS (who died in Anaheim on August 2), Alejandro MARTINEZ (who died in Buena Park on August 2), Rafael MORALES (who died in Anaheim on August 3), Sandra VANZANT (who died in Westminster on August 4), Michael YARBROUGH (who died in Newport Beach on August 5), Steven SCHOFER (who died in Westminster on August 6), Frankie TELLEZ (who died in Garden Grove on August 9), Jason BOWEN (who died in Newport Beach on August 12), Donald LOFTON (who died in Fullerton on August 13), Timothy MANNING (who died in Orange on August 17), Ernest PARRA JR. (who died in Santa Ana on August 17), Brian SWAN (who died in Orange on August 17), Andrew BRAFF (who died in Santa Ana on August 17), Sean VITTORIO (who died in Huntington Beach on August 18), Carlos AGUILAR (who died in Stanton on August 26), Vicente DE LEON (who died in Garden Grove on August 27), Derek WILSON (who died in Dana Point on August 27), Patrick HILL (who died in Costa Mesa on August 30).

Additionally, there may be two others who died last month who don’t appear on OC Coroner’s list but who we also remembered at our Second Tuesday of the Month noon hour memorial service at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Fullerton.

Encampment on Gilbert Street in Fullerton Credit: Fr. Dennis Kriz

At 19 deaths in August, this would make last month the deadliest month for OC’s homeless since February, while 21 deaths would make last month the deadliest month for OC’s homeless of the year.

Yes, we have a crisis.  That we find ourselves so appears to be becoming clearer with each passing month. In recent weeks, even the Trump Administration has become increasingly vocal about the homelessness situation present in California.  While presently it is hard to say whether the attention of the Feds will force rapid, decisive and hopefully constructive action in this matter, it should be clear by now that time is ticking and people are dying.  I just hope that the increased attention would be primarily focused on the self-evident plight of those finding themselves sleeping on our streets, rather than simply an effort to “restore order.”  Saving lives of the suffering simply needs to be our first priority.

Fr. Dennis Kriz, OSM, Pastor St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church, Fullerton.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

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