Another thirty people died “without fixed abode” in OC in October.  Their names are:

Timothy YORGA who died on October 1st in Santa Ana, Roberto TORRES who died on October 2nd in Santa Ana, Santos DIAZGUEVARA who died on October 2nd in La Habra, Marsha FINDLEY who died on October 2nd in Orange, Sergio ANGEL MARTINEZ who died on October 3rd in Santa Ana, Wayne JOHNSON who died on October 6th in Fullerton, Ricardo ESTRADA who died on October 7th in Garden Grove, Carlos Aaron MARTINEZ who died on October 7th in Buena Park, Thomas CANNON who died on October 8th in Costa Mesa, Robert PETERSEN JR. who died on October 8th in Anaheim, Martin FERGUSON who died on October 8th in Santa Ana, Cathy SPAETH who died on October 9th in Anaheim, Edward YORBA who died on October 11th in Orange, Michael SCHENKELBERG who died on October 14th in Anaheim, Erik TINNESEN who died on October 15th in Newport Beach, Ruben GONZALEZ who died on October 16th in Newport Beach, Nicolas VILLANI who died on October 16th in Santa Ana, Ricardo ESPINOZA who died on October 16th in Santa Ana, Imad KATALO who died on October 17th in Santa Ana, Melissa MULAT who died on October 18th in Anaheim, Ronnie MARTIN who died on October 21st in Fullerton, Mark RODRIQUEZ who died on October 21st in Placentia, Dale BODNAR who died on October 22nd in Santa Ana, Infant male HERNANDEZ who died on October 22nd in Orange, Tabetha BELL who died on October 24th in Orange, Johnny SALDANA who died on October 27th in Laguna Niguel, Jose MEDRANO who died on October 28th in Santa Ana, Jose ZARAGOZA who died on October 30th in Fullerton, Erica BARNES who died on October 31st in Laguna Hills, Joseph GULICK who died on October 31st in Newport Beach.

Yet, all things considered, this was a relatively good month on the homeless front.  First, Mary’s Kitchen got a stay of execution of six months.  This will help some three hundred people who’ve come to use the services, including laundry and a mailing address – can’t get documents without an address, can’t get assistance, without documents. 

Second, while there remains some confusion about why exactly the state of the art Fullerton Navigation Center, practically a 3-star hotel of a shelter is chronically underused while adjacent far more spartan shelters in Buena Park and Placentia are almost always, full while hundreds of people remain sleeping on the streets of all three cities, there does seem to be the will – and the pressure by the Faith Community – to insist that the FNC not be allowed to go under.

The clearest culprit in the FNCs troubles is a truly byzantine and arguably designed to fail system of funding, where very much available dollars from the State need to be first requested by the County and then by the constituent cities before being channeled to the shelter operator actually providing the service. 

In a County where many people are ideologically opposed to asking for money from the State, period, one then can see how this system can quite easily fail.

The cost to the county and its residents is of course keeping hundreds of desperate people sleeping on its streets, forever.

Then our ideological opposition to asking for state money disappears when we ask for said funds to support public safety to protect ourselves from the people we choose to keep desperate sleeping on our streets.

Does it have to be this way?  Of course not.  Do shelters have to be like Buchenwald?  Of course not as well.  The still-operating FNC largely proves that.

But we choose to do nothing until we’re dragged kicking and screaming to do a little better.  And we keep ourselves scared, very scared.  And yes 30 additional people died on the streets of OC as a result last month.

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

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