Twenty four people died “without fixed abode” in Orange County in December.  Their names were:

Precelano MENDEZ who died on Dec 4th in Westminster, Hector RODRIGUEZ GONZALEZ who died on Dec 4th in Santa Ana, Michael MONTEER who died on Dec 6th in Tustin, Gregory MCCABE who died on Dec 9th in Mission Viejo, Guy BIRDWELL who died on Dec 14th in Garden Grove, Robert SWEARINGIN who died on Dec 14th in Westminster, Lynn BARTON who died on Dec 15th in La Habra, Robert BURKE who died on Dec 16th in Anaheim, Joey MACIAS who died on Dec 18th in Orange, Arlene SANCHEZ who died on Dec 18th in Fountain Valley, David BRUCE who died on Dec 19th in Los Alamitos, Jada HOOVER who died on Dec 21st in Garden Grove, Kathleen SOSA who died on Dec 22nd in Cypress, Jose HERNANDEZ CALLEJAS who died on Dec 24th in Santa Ana, Roger SMITH who died on Dec 26th in Anaheim, William WOMACK who died on Dec 26th in Anaheim, Thomas LIVINGSTONE who died on Dec 27th in Costa Mesa, Louis NEFOS who died on Dec 27th in Santa Ana, Yvette AVINA who died on Dec 27th in Santa Ana, David JARACUARO ARROYO who died on Dec 27th in Garden Grove, Johann DAVIS who died on Dec 28th in Anaheim, Glenn SENTENO who died on Dec 29th in La Palma, Nelson VELASQUEZ who died on Dec 29th in Anaheim, Beth DAVIS who died on Dec 30th in Anaheim.

The number along with the numbers from previous months clearly indicates that while the sun can kill too during the summer, the winter months with their attendant cold and rain kill even more.

How are things marching along in OC with regards to a solution?  As has been the case for some time, it’s been a mixed bag.  In Fullerton, we’re looking forward to a final approval by the City Council of a 150 bed Recuperative Care / Navigation Center that should finally put a significant dent in the City’s homelessness problem.  At the other end of the County, in San Clemente, there are also indications that the City is coming to an understanding that it can’t “enforce” its way out of its homelessness concerns.  On the County level, it was patently clear at its last Board of Supervisors meeting of 2019 that most of its members prefer to talk about just about anything else other than homelessness.   Yet it is a problem that is literally at its doorstep and one that won’t go away until it gathers the courage to confront it.

And there are clear reasons for hope that this is a problem that  can be solved. After all, OC has three million residents, and a homeless population of 7-10 thousand.  So we’re talking 0.23 – 0.33%.  Consider simply an ordinance that would require every owner of 10 or more apartment units to make ONE in TEN of their apartment units available for Section 8 housing.  That would not be hard to do, cost apartment owners next to nothing to do and … solve the homelessness problem here in OC probably for a generation to come.

But we choose to do little to nothing, everyone remains “annoyed” and people reduced to sleeping on the streets continue to die at a rate of a dozen or two a month, every month.  Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day.  Perhaps we’ll find the strength to do better by this time next year.

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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