Last month, January 2022, a record 46 people died without fixed abode in Orange County.   Their names are:

Robert WADE who died on December 31st in Orange

Richard GALLAGHER who died on January 1st in Costa Mesa

Pete CAIRO who died on January 1st in Santa Ana

Trudy DEANDA who died on January 2nd in Anaheim

Sunny CALVILLO who died on January 3rd in Anaheim

Dennis AGUILAR CHOXOM who died on January 3rd in Anaheim

Alejandro SANDOVAL ROMERO who died on January 3rd in Anaheim

Elver PAXTOR MALDONADO who died on January 4th in Santa Ana

Louis ADAMS JR who died on January 4th in Garden Grove

Favio VELASCO who died on January 4th in Anaheim

Paul LUPIEN who died on January 4th in Costa Mesa

Troy MCGOVERN who died on January 4th in Garden Grove

Randolph ALPORQUE who died on January 5th in Huntington Beach

Kevin FASIHINIA who died on January 6th in Huntington Beach

Mylik WRIGHT who died on January 6th in Santa Ana

Judith RITCHIE who died on January 7th in Laguna Hills

Kory HALOPOFF who died on January 8th in Santa Ana

Michael MOLAUG who died on January 10th in Anaheim

Alexandra KONOPKA who died on January 12th in Westminster

Reuben MARTINEZ who died on January 12th in Stanton

Bert MONDINO III who died on January 14th in Tustin

Noe VAZQUEZ who died on January 15th in Orange

Lloyd JONES who died on January 15th in Santa Ana

Robert REEVES, JR. who died on January 16th in Stanton

Carol CHRISTENSEN who died on January 16th in Orange

Jeffrey BACANI who died on January 17th in Fullerton

Barbara NORKAITIS who died on January 17th in Huntington Beach

Robert LIDDICOTE who died on January 18th in Costa Mesa

Lester BLAKEMAN who died on January 18th in Santa Ana

Jorge PAVIA who died on January 18th in Buena Park

Anthony NEAL, JR. who died on January 19th in Laguna Hills

Omar RAMIREZ-NOLASCO who died on January 20th in Capistrano Beach

Dustin POINTON who died on January 21st in Laguna Beach

Shane BRANAM who died on January 21st in Cypress

Bradford KIRK who died on January 22nd in Lake Forest

Hugo LOPEZ who died on January 23rd in Mission Viejo

Ruby LOPEZ who died on January 24th in Huntington Beach

Cassandra COLAW who died on January 25th in Orange

Charles PAGE who died on January 26th in Buena Park

Nicholas JUAREZ who died on January 27th in Santa Ana

Bailey WATSON who died on January 28th in Costa Mesa

Jose RAMIREZ who died on January 29th in San Juan Capistrano

Helena GIDCUMB who died on January 29th in Anaheim

Michael ROMERO who died on January 29th in Anaheim

Freddy RAMIREZ who died on January 30th in Santa Ana

Forest DUNAGAN who died on January 30th in Garden Grove

Eugene SUTTON who died on January 31st in Anaheim

Last year, 40 people died in such circumstances in Orange County in January, then also a record, broken and exceeded this year by 15%.   

The lamentable increase in homeless deaths in Orange County has produced some action.  

On January 26th, Orange County Sheriff Coroner Don Barnes announced the creation of a Homeless Death Review Committee set to “consist of technical experts from both the public and private sectors,” and whose mission will be “to explore the root causes of the reviewed deaths and determine what, if any, factors contributing to the deaths were preventable.”  The press release announcing the creation of the panel notes that the empanelment of such a committee is a “recommended best practice of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.”   While the Committee will certainly certify that which is already well known that a large number of those who die on the streets of OC die violently or of drug overdoses, one hopes the Committee will also note that keeping large numbers of people on the streets vulnerable, under stress or bored, increases the likelihood of their being assaulted and resorting to self-medication (either to stay awake, to go to sleep, or in turn all of the above). 

Where action has not taken place is help in finding the City of Orange’s Mary’s Kitchen a place to move to after it is shut down at its present location (set to occur by May 1).  

A lovely random morning at Mary’s Kitchen set to be closed by May 1, 2022.  The yellow medical van in the back is from the Orange County Rescue Mission offering doctor’s services to Mary’s Kitchen’s patrons. 

I was at Mary’s Kitchen recently.  What a lovely place it continues to be:  About 80-100 people sitting nicely, peacefully, in a nice shaded area, at picnic tables, eating breakfast, having opportunity to get a shower, watch some TV, recharge one’s phone, SEE A DOCTOR, have a chance, in effect to regroup, rather than be forced to defend one’s tent or tarp, on some street corner somewhere, not having showered in weeks, and having been burned from head to toe by the sun.

But despite being at the end of a cul de sac in an industrial part of town with the city’s police station a block and a half away, this place is being shut down, rather than being lifted up as a model to other cities for humanely providing services to their homeless populations. 

Another place where action definitely hasn’t taken place is finding the County’s RV dwellers someplace, any place to legally park overnight. 

I now get several calls a week from RV dwellers who last year used to be somewhat annoyingly parked on a street in Fullerton, again in an industrial section of town – a long, kathump, kathump, kathump train passing by every five to ten minutes.  The RV dwellers have since been scattered to other parts of the county and continue to accumulate mountains of parking tickets.  Eventually, every one of them will lose their vehicles, and those vehicles will be sold at auction to other desperate people who won’t realize until too late that there’s no place to legally park them in the County.

One would think that at minimum, if there is no place to legally park 10-year-old RVs in the County, then it should be illegal to sell them here in the County as well.   But there could be any number of places across the county that could be designated for these people to park.   And yes, then setting up a tent or rolling up a mobile van with an office so that the County could offer these people basic services could be done.  It would not be hard, and it would meet these people where they are.   But we choose not to.

And then we wonder why another record number of people have died once more, homeless, on our streets. 

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

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