Homelessness in neighboring LA. We keep saying it's worse there than here. But L.A.'s new mayor reduced street homelessness by 14,000 in three months and plans to end it completely in three years. Do we have a plan at all?

Another 42 people “without fixed abode” died in Orange County in May.  Their names are:

Kyle CASTILLO who died on May 1st in Cypress

John MCQUISTON who died on May 1st in Fullerton

Dennis MARTIN who died on May 2nd in Tustin

Gareth LLOYD who died on May 2nd in Mission Viejo

Michael TWISS who died on May 3rd in Anaheim

Gregory BIRD who died on May 3rd in Los Alamitos

Alejandro DURAN who died on May 3rd in Santa Ana

Jose FLORES who died on May 6th in Santa Ana

Judith PETT who died on May 8th in Anaheim

Michael MASON who died on May 8th in Irvine

Daniel MATICH who died on May 9th in Laguna Beach

Robert BUCHANAN who died on May 10th in Westminster

Juan LEON who died on May 10th in Orange

Cesar ARAMBULA who died on May 11th in Santa Ana

Kevin ELLISON who died on May 12th in Santa Ana

David FISHER who died on May 12th in Orange

Petronila FERNANDEZ-GARCIA who died on May 12th in Orange

Patrick LE who died on May 14th in Santa Ana

Danielle SMITH who died on May 15th in Garden Grove

Jesus MORALES who died on May 15th in Orange

Charles LAWRENCE who died on May 15th in Anaheim

Michael CONWAY who died on May 17th in Anaheim

David ALLEN who died on May 17th in Santa Ana

Shane REYES who died on May 18th in Santa Ana

Jessie EDWARDS who died on May 18th in Midway City

Mark PIERCE who died on May 18th in Orange

Ana PEREZ who died on May 24th in Stanton

David CASTRO who died on May 25th in Santa Ana

Matthew ROMERO who died on May 25th in Garden Grove

Jane DOE who died on May 26th in Irvine

Terry  POTTS who died on May 26th in Orange

Lynn  BLACK who died on May 26th in Newport Beach

Lauren DAWES who died on May 26th in Anaheim

Darren SMITH who died on May 27th in Tustin

Mark  HANNA who died on May 27th in Fullerton

Ruben CARRILLO, JR. who died on May 27th in Orange

Robert HAWLEY, JR. who died on May 29th in Fountain Valley

Tenesha GETTS who died on May 29th in Garden Grove

James MCGEEIN who died on May 29th in Huntington Beach

Raymond LOVALOY who died on May 31st in Santa Ana

Stuart OGLE who died on May 31st in Huntington Beach

Michael MORRISON who died on May 31st in Costa Mesa

Additionally there was this person:

Lisa CRESPO who died on March 13th in Orange

who died without fixed abode who was not listed until now.

The 43 people added to the County’s homeless death toll in May brings us back to the record-breaking death tolls of last year.  Indeed, with the exception of a welcome one-month dip last month, the year to date the death count among those “without fixed abode” is 10% higher (227 vs 205) for this year over last year.

To put it in perspective, if one takes the 2022 PIT seriously, nearly 4% (3.96%) of the County’s 5,718 person homeless population has already died since the beginning of the year, and we are on track for a full 9.5% of the County’s homeless population dying by the end of the year.

The County could admit reality and declare a homeless emergency. 

It could sit down with the ACLU, the American domestic equivalent of Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, and quickly do what the U.N. has done across the globe whenever there is a refugee crisis: quickly find a way to credibly and humanely put a roof over the heads of every single person currently sleeping on the streets of our County. 

The U.N. has done this for 80 years in war zones with all kinds of traumatized people without violating anybody’s rights, primarily because it has not sought to oppose agencies like the International Red Cross or Amnesty International.  Instead, throughout its whole history, the UN has actively sought to work with agencies such as these to do its job both effectively and credibly.

Yes, it would require a significant cultural shift in Orange County to do similarly – it would require the County, beginning with its leaders, but also then its population, us, all of us, to finally concede the humanity of the people sleeping on our streets.

And if these people are human, then they have rights and both the Holy See (since Pius XII’s war time addresses) and the United Nations (in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights) have declared HOUSING to be a human right.  

Last year, Europe was able to absorb 4-5 million Ukrainian Refugees fleeing a war zone.  Poland, with an equivalent population to California (38M to 39M) but 1/2 its GDP ($1.7T to $3.0T) was able to first provide shelter and then housing to over a million of those refugees.

Earlier, Germany with a population of 84M and a GDP of $5.7T so roughly equivalent to California, was able to absorb (provide both jobs and housing) to one million Syrian refugees, again fleeing a war zone, and here being from both an ethnicity and largely of a religion that most Germans did not particularly understand.  But Germany was able to do this, because their country saw the humanity of the people coming to their doorsteps.

Honestly, why can’t we do that? 

Why do we continue to insist that some people as “less people” than others? 

And don’t we see that we diminish ourselves when we do that to others?   

The clock is ticking and the death toll mounts.  Nearly 10% of our homeless population will be dead by the end of the year, if nothing changes.

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.