According to the OC Coroner’s office, twenty three people died “without fixed abode” in Orange County in January 2020. They are:
Adrian CENICEROS who died on January 2nd in Orange, Jeffrey EMERSON who died on January 2nd in Huntington Beach, Charles BLACK who died on January 4th in La Palma, Eligio FLORES who died on January 6th in Santa Ana, James FULGHUM who died on January 7th in Anaheim, Lafi BURGESS who died on January 10th in Orange, Jesus ESPINOSA who died on January 11th in Santa Ana, Arthur ROMERO who died on January 12th in Santa Ana, Kenneth CLARK who died on January 13th in Santa Ana, Rashawn SQUIRE who died on January 14th in Santa Ana, Faith ROSALES who died on January 14th in Santa Ana, Isidro APARICIO who died on January 14th in Anaheim, Michael POTCHKA who died on January 15th in Huntington Beach, Morgan BROMBAL who died on January 17th in Orange, Colin WILLIS who died on January 18th in Fountain Valley, March REDDICK who died on January 19th in Orange, Donny VAN WHY who died on January 19th in Huntington Beach, Mark MONTANEZ who died on January 21st in Santa Ana, Alberto ALCAUTER-PEREZ who died on January 25th in Santa Ana, Malik SHWIAT who died on January 25th in Orange, Michael CERNAK who died on January 25th in Fountain Valley, Vidal REYES who died on January 25th in Anaheim, Jacob SOLOMON who died on January 31st in Anaheim.
Over the year that I’ve requested monthly the OC Coroner for this list, I have been asked at times to add names to the list who did not appear but had died homeless, and I’ve had some of the names that have appeared on the OC Coroner’s list questioned. Indeed last year, I performed a memorial service for a woman who had died as a resident at a homeless shelter in OC but did not appear on the OC Coroner’s list. Similarly, I have occasionally been asked by the Voice of OC to check if someone’s name printed in my column really appeared on the list. It is for reason that the Voice of OC and I decided early on to print only the names of those who appear on the OC Coroner’s list even if we knew the names of people who had died homeless but were missing from the official list. Additionally, Readers here should note that there are no “Jane or John Does” on the lists printed here. The only people appearing on the OC Coroner’s lists are people who have been identified. As such, the list is certainly an undercount.
How are things going? Well, last month Fullerton’s City Council approved, 4-1, the Conditional Use Permit for a 150 bed Recuperative Care / Navigation Center to be run by the Illumination Foundation. That much needed facility should be up and running … well one day, soon, we will finally stop talking about it in the future tense, and thankfully we have finally stopped talking about it in the “conditional tense.”
On the other side of the equation, there is talk to converting the Fairview Mental Health Campus, whose reopening as a mental health facility is a clear priority for Judge David Carter, into some sort of a “mixed use development.” I would just like to remind everyone here that if the Fairview Facility is “re-purposed” into some sort of a condo development, then the County will have decided that it prefers to keep hundreds of its most afflicted, arguably most problematic residents of our streets, on the County’s streets in its neighborhoods, in front of its kids… essentially forever. And almost every hardnosed “solution” to the County’s homelessness problem, including expelling drug addicted residents of its emerging homeless shelter network back onto the streets (rather than into a drug rehabilitation program), suffers from the same fallacy. There’s little that would seem to be more counter-productive to solving OC’s homelessness problem than keeping the people who find themselves homeless on our streets, taking drugs in front of our kids, and urinating on our lawns…
The wisdom of the Boise decision is clear. We can’t punish people for having no place to go. How many people must continue to die before we finally collectively come to understand?
Fr. Dennis Kriz, OSM, Pastor St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church, Fullerton.
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