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Twenty nine people died “without fixed abode” in OC in February (last year there were 20).  Their names are: 

Michael CASAS who died on January 29th in Fullerton, Christian BELLO who died on February 3rd in Santa Ana, Apolinar MENDEZ who died on February 4th in Santa Ana, David CISNEROS who died on February 5th in Placentia, Manuel VALDEZ-SALMERON who died on February 6th in Santa Ana, Benigno BERBER III who died on February 7th in Santa Ana, David PILKINGTON who died on February 7th in Fountain Valley, Christian STONE who died on February 8th in Huntington Beach, Wade LINK IV who died on February 9th in Stanton, Jose VAZQUEZ who died on February 10th in Westminster, William MANZAGOL who died on February 13th in Newport Beach, Terry EVANS who died on February 14th in Anaheim, Joseph GRIFFIN who died on February 15th in San Clemente, Morgan PLEASANT who died on February 15th in La Palma, Mark ARRINGTON who died on February 15th in Anaheim, Sherwood HARRIS who died on February 17th in Garden Grove, Jeff WALKER who died on February 17th in Santa Ana, Silverio MIRELES who died on February 18th in La Habra, David HUSSEY who died on February 18th in La Habra, Andres CHAVEZ who died on February 22nd in Santa Ana, Ronald DAVIS who died on February 24th in Santa Ana, Amilcar QUINONEZ who died on February 24th in Fullerton, James PUENTES who died on February 25th in Anaheim, Alfredo CASTILLO who died on February 25th in Anaheim, Andrew PEREZ who died on February 25th in Santa Ana, Elizabeth ORTIZ who died on February 26th in Santa Ana, Nelson GUAY who died on February 27th in Garden Grove, Karina ESPINOZA who died on February 27th in Santa Ana, Raymond HARDIMAN who died on February 28th in Santa Ana.

There has been quite a bit of action on the homeless front in the past month in the County, whether good or bad, depending on one’s perspective:  

In Santa Ana, the Courtyard Shelter, such as it was, was closed without public comment.  Fullerton’s new Navigation Center was repurposed, again quickly without public comment, for the second time in its brief four-month history (!), to take in some of those people who had been staying at the Courtyard Shelter that was closed in Santa Ana (the alternative apparently would have been to cast those who had been staying at the Courtyard Shelter back onto Santa Ana’s streets).  Previously, the Fullerton’s Navigation Center had been converted, without public comment, into the County’s primary homeless Covid-19 ward.    

It’s an instructive (punitive?) display of power to all who would advocate for the building of shelters, an attempt to show who remains boss in these parts – the cities and county have shown that they can quickly and decisively (!) repurpose the facilities that we advocated for into pretty much anything they desire.   So shut up and just let the homeless die, like the 29 above.  

But these people do die even as the cities / county both prove that quick and decisive action is possible when they want to do so and yet all but impossible when they don’t.

Which brings me to the 30 or so RVs parked annoyingly on Valencia and Walnut Drives in Southeast Fullerton.

Here I can appreciate the frustration of many of Fullerton’s city officials.  Anaheim passed a citywide RV ban last year quickly and decisively without so much as a peep from its faith community (or hardly anybody else for that matter), and here Fullerton has, at least for the moment, been stopped in its tracks by a group of pastors, priests, catechists, rabbis, imams and general “do-gooders.”    

It’s a finger in the dike.   After Fullerton’s March 2nd City Council Meeting, Rabbi Nico Sokolovsky of Fullerton’s Temple Beth Tikvah noted that we were given about 40 days – about the same time that Jonah gave the people of Nineveh – to solve this problem of Fullerton’s RV caravans.  And La Habra, Placentia and some of the other municipalities across our fair county be warned: these caravans may soon be coming to you … 

Which would then make it seem wise to come up, quickly and decisively, with a County-wide solution or even Southern California-wide solution to this problem.   If with a phone call or two, a Navigation Center could be converted into a county-wide homeless Covid-19 ward, any number of parking lots or campgrounds – Santiago and Silverado Canyons beckon — could be quickly and decisively repurposed in a similar way to give some of our older folks, who put their last dimes into a used RV a few years back, some place to go. 

And yes, I know that I am with some glee poking an accusatory finger into the faces of a fair number of local officials, a fair number of whom I also know don’t fully deserve it.  Still when one sees both head-spinning decisive action and yet hears repeated excuses that “our hands are tied,” one simply does not believe the excuses.

But unless the shadows change, to both our neighboring towns as well as the lovely ones down south by the sea: “You’re welcome, and thank you in advance for ‘sharing our joy’ just as the good leadership of Anaheim chose last year to share theirs with us.

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

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