A "Mesa Verde" like encampment under a freeway overpass here in OC. Yes isolation, due to both Covid fears and harassment are taking their toll on the County's homeless population. Credit: Fr. Dennis Kriz

Another 46 people died “without fixed abode” in OC in February 2022.  Their names are:

Thomas MOSNOT who died on January 28th in Huntington Beach

Michael DAVIS who died on February 1st in Santa Ana

Greg MCCOMB who died on February 1st in Anaheim

Joshua SMITH who died on February 3rd in Tustin

Monserrat SANCHEZ TRUJILLO who died on February 3rd in Santa Ana

Rogelio CALDERON who died on February 3rd in Santa Ana

Robert HARSTAD who died on February 4th in Irvine

Richard YBARRA who died on February 4th in Huntington Beach

Vincent ALONZO who died on February 4th in Santa Ana

Mark ONEAL who died on February 5th in Laguna Hills

Angel ORTIZ who died on February 6th in Fullerton

Cruz SANCHEZ who died on February 6th in Anaheim

Seana MULDOWN who died on February 6th in Santa Ana

Ryan SALAZAR who died on February 6th in Orange

Laurentino MARTINEZ who died on February 6th in Santa Ana

Craig CARPENTER who died on February 6th in Anaheim

Miguel ORTEGA who died on February 6th in Santa Ana

Eduardo AREVALO who died on February 7th in Santa Ana

Christopher MARTIN who died on February 8th in Santa Ana

Kwan WINN who died on February 8th in Westminster

Rebecca MESA who died on February 8th in Huntington Beach

Jaime SANTOS who died on February 9th in Santa Ana

Ronald LOCKWOOD who died on February 11th in Anaheim

Hussein ALI who died on February 11th in Anaheim

Christopher DUFF who died on February 11th in Anaheim

Larry BELL who died on February 13th in La Habra

Joan LEATH who died on February 16th in Anaheim

Charles OHABOR who died on February 16th in Irvine

Berta GUIZA who died on February 16th in Santa Ana

Hoang NGUYEN who died on February 17th in Westminster

Amy EDWARDS who died on February 17th in Newport Beach

Rogelio REYES VALDOVINOS who died on February 18th in Anaheim

Austin COCKRILL who died on February 19th in Anaheim

William THOMPSON, JR. who died on February 19th in Fountain Valley

Rebecca POOCHIGIAN who died on February 21st in Anaheim

Alejandro PEREZ who died on February 21st in Santa Ana

Anthony DICKSON who died on February 22nd in Santa Ana

Noi SAYACHACK who died on February 24th in Santa Ana

Toni SETTLE who died on February 24th in Anaheim

Jose BARBA who died on February 25th in Costa Mesa

Sean THORNTON who died on February 26th in Santa Ana

Michael CAGGIANO who died on February 26th in Santa Ana

Sergio BARRIOS who died on February 26th in Anaheim

David HOXIE who died on February 26th in Santa Ana

Rodrigo OLVERA who died on February 26th in Orange

Christopher HODGES who died on February 27th in Garden Grove

Marcos RAMIREZ who died on February 27th in Orange

Just last month, in January, 46 people had died “without fixed abode” as well, then a record.  February tied this new record, but with three less days than in January.  In 2020 and 2021, the number that died in February was 20.  So clearly we find ourselves in a crisis.

To be sure, the OC Sheriff’s Department has promised an investigation to look for opportunities to help bring down this increasing death toll (it has doubled over the past several years). 

Let me offer a few ideas. Since it is no secret that quite a few of those who die “without fixed abode” die of drug overdoses, the County should immediately look into methadone programs to help control heroin addiction on the streets. 

Since offering a robust methadone program while keeping thousands of people sleeping on the streets doesn’t make a great deal of sense, the County should once again look at quickly providing a roof over the heads of all of the county’s people finding themselves homeless. 

This remains possible to do quickly by coordinating with the State and receiving assistance from both the State and the Federal government.   This is literally what FEMA is for, and on the international level, the UN has run successful refugee camps and services in cooperation with and under the watchful eye of human rights organizations since the end of World War II.   There is no reason why a quality program organized by FEMA in cooperation with and under the watchful eye of the ACLU could not be put up, and effectively run, literally in weeks. 

Consider simply that in these past several weeks, the European Union was able to provide roofs over their heads for MILLIONS of refugees from Ukraine.   Recognize here that the population of Slovakia is 5.4 million (in the ballpark of OC’s population of 3.3 million).  From a standing start, Slovakia absorbed some 100K refugees in only a couple of weeks.  Next door Poland with a population of 38.3 million (comparable to California’s) has been able to absorb approaching 2 million refugees.  So “si, se puede” if only we came to approach our homelessness crisis with the urgency that it deserves.

This all said, I would also like to address our brothers and sisters who find themselves sleeping on our streets directly.

Please, you see the death tolls printed here every month.  Yes, it would be wonderful if this County came to reflect the faiths that so many of its residents profess.  And one can dream that with this new Sheriff’s Commission, progress will occur.

However, in the meantime, please, ON YOUR OWN, step away from drugs.  Look, I do understand the pressures existing on the street that lead one to want to self-medicate.  But do so with whiskey, not with drugs.  We all know that Fentanyl is a killer but none of us know in what pill or drug bought on the street it would appear.  Alcohol in contrast is regulated.  Thus it is safer.

Honestly, it’s a matter of life and death.  As we are reminded in this Season of Lent, Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy presented the Israelites this stark choice of Life and Death and asked them to choose Life.  Please choose Life as well.

Help may come, or it may not, or certainly not in time.  Please use your own agency to keep yourselves safe and above all alive for another day.

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

Opinions expressed in community opinion pieces belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please email opinions@voiceofoc.org.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.