Kriz: Thirty More People Died “Without Fixed Abode” in OC in May; Last Year it was Fourteen

Courtesy of Fr Dennis Kriz, OSM

Sign outside of St Philip Benizi Parish. In recent months a 150 bed Recuperative Care / Navigation Center was approved by the Fullerton City Council, and should be online soon. Still even with no design changes due to COVID-19, Fullerton's homeless street population will remain at 220. And there are thousands more across the County. Can we do better? Of course we can.

Thirty people died “without fixed abode” in Orange County in last month.  Their names are: Alvin WENDLANDT who died on May 1st in Anaheim, Edward JANSSEN who died on May 1st in Costa Mesa, Kenneth CONNEL who died on May 1st in Orange, Robert HACKETT who died on May 2nd in Westminster, Joel GANDEZA who died on May 3rd in Santa Ana, Andrew CONCEPCION who died on May 4th in Anaheim, Matthew NICKOLESCU who died on May 4th in Costa Mesa, Paul MALOTT who died on May 4th in Santa Ana, Michael WHITE who died on May 6th in Midway City, Jose CHACON who died on May 7th in Fullerton, Patrick PRENDERGAST who died on May 7th in Santa Ana, Manolis TSARNAS who died on May 8th in Anaheim, Tuong NGUYEN who died on May 9th in Anaheim, Alexander CARILLO who died on May 11th in Santa Ana, Marie TATE who died on May 12th in Huntington Beach, Carolyn TATE who died on May 12th in Huntington Beach, John DILWORTH who died on May 13th in Huntington Beach, John LINGUA who died on May 14th in Costa Mesa, Sawyer PAWLIK who died on May 14th in Costa Mesa, Mario ARMENTO who died on May 15th in Anaheim, Michael GILREATH who died on May 18th in Orange, Tricia GONZALEZ who died on May 19th in Santa Ana, Hiep TRUONG who died on May 23rd in Garden Grove, Jonathan LEMASTER who died on May 24th in Santa Ana, Theodore CONTRERAS who died on May 24th in Santa Ana, Geoffrey POWER who died on May 27th in Santa Ana, Veronica VALENZUELA who died on May 27th in Anaheim, Randall WALLETS who died on May 28th in Anaheim, Christopher JOHNSEN who died on May 29th in Huntington Beach, and Barry JACKSON who died on May 29th in Anaheim.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the mortality of OC’s homeless has doubled from last year.  Sixteen people died “without fixed abode” in the second half of March of this year, the year before that only 7 died during the same period of time.  This April 34 died without fixed abode in OC, last April only 19 did.  Last month 30 died, the previous May only 14.   So since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, 80 people have died “without fixed abode” in OC.  Last year during the same period, the number was 40.

Why are they dying?  Whether directly of the virus or of neglect or fear of seeking help until the last minute, the mortality rate among OC’s homeless has doubled.

What are we doing?  With much panting and often complaining, the county has put 500 homeless folks, most who had already been sleeping in shelters (so almost NO ONE has been moved from the streets) into hotel rooms through the state funded Operation Room Key.  At current mortality rate, by the end of the year nearly as many of OC’s homeless will have died on our streets.

Can we do better?  Of course we can.  We choose not to.  And so the names of thirty more souls lie this month at the foot of our statue of Our Lady of Sorrows at our Parish of St. Philip Benizi in Fullerton.

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

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