The line at St Philip Benizi's food pantry, it just gets longer each month

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

Mario BARAJAS who died on August 1st in Garden Grove

Ryan RAMOS who died on August 3rd in Fountain Valley

Juan RODRIGUEZ who died on August 4th in Orange

Johnny ARIAS who died on August 4th in Stanton

Mark BIRD who died on August 5th in Huntington Beach

David DELEAL who died on August 5th in Huntington Beach

Anthony LUGO who died on August 5th in Garden Grove

Luis CAMPOS who died on August 6th in Santa Ana

Russell BRITTON who died on August 6th in Huntington Beach

Javon MCGRIFF who died on August 7th in Costa Mesa

Mark BUCHHEIT who died on August 8th in Buena Park

Kirk MCKENZIE who died on August 8th in Anaheim

Ana LARA who died on August 8th in Fullerton

Aaron SEARLS who died on August 10th in Orange

Raymond TAFOLLA who died on August 10th in Santa Ana

Roberto RODRIGUEZ who died on August 10th in Santa Ana

Kevin CARDONA who died on August 12th in Huntington Beach

Richard MASSE who died on August 12th in Laguna Hills

Herman GYORGY who died on August 16th in Orange

Michael FURTADO who died on August 16th in Placentia

Aubree CUMBO who died on August 17th in Santa Ana

Cristian BARRAGAN who died on August 19th in Anaheim

Frank GUTIERREZ who died on August 20th in San Juan Capistrano

Edwin ELOE II who died on August 21st in Santa Ana

Scott CALDWELL who died on August 22nd in Anaheim

Daniel VILLANUEVA who died on August 23rd in Fountain Valley

Isaac OLVERA who died on August 23rd in Orange

Mark ALLEY who died on August 24th in Orange

Richard MULCAHY who died on August 25th in Santa Ana

Randy ARMSTRONG who died on August 26th in Los Alamitos

Brandon MORRIS who died on August 27th in Newport Beach

Desiree MIXON who died on August 27th in Fullerton

Samantha BARNARD who died on August 28th in Orange

Nathaniel BEGAY who died on August 29th in Cypress

William BETANZOS PORTILLO who died on August 31st in Santa Ana

Jose GONZALES who died on August 31st in Mission Viejo

Charles LEIGH who died on August 31st in Anaheim

Additionally, we remember

Deborah DOE who died on July 4th in Orange

Juan SANCHEZ who died on July 31st in Fullerton

who died whose names were only released last month.

All told, 347 people “without fixed abode” have already died in the County this year, a number 5% higher than the then record breaking 329 people who had died last year at this point in time. 

If things do not change, then 520 people “without fixed abode will have died in the County by the end of the year an equivalent of 9.1% of the County’s homeless population (counted to be 5718 in the last PIT Count conducted in January 2022) having died in this County by the end of the year.

During these months, I have been reminded by many that the situation up in Los Angeles County remains much worse than here in OC.  And it is.

Still, one wonders how a County as rich as ours prefers to keep its poorest / most vulnerable people sleeping on its streets.  These include (by the 2022 Point in Time Count) 121 children and 300 seniors.

To this end, the Fullerton Tri-Parish Collaborative (comprising the St. Vincent DePaul Societies of the three Catholic Parishes of Fullerton) just launched the Michael Clements Miniloan Program to give loans of up to $7500 to cover the move-in expenses (1st, last month’s rent and security/cleaning deposit) for homeless families with small children where the parents do have jobs, but after spending most of their paychecks on hotel expenses to keep a roof over their family’s heads can never save up enough money to pay for the required deposits to get into an apartment again.

The hope that this initiative will help to get this community off the streets and into apartments.  (Readers note here, that I am the pastor of one of the three Catholic Parishes involved in this project, St. Philip Benizi).

For the 718 homeless Seniors (300 unsheltered), I continue to recommend that the County/State simply give each homeless Senior $100/night vouchers and then garnish this expense or a portion of this expense from their social security checks.  If the County / State did nothing more than this for its homeless Seniors, the cost would be $36,500/Senior/year, while offering substantially better and more complete services than far more expensive and yet wildly insufficient services offered now. 

What do I mean?  Well,

  • a solution that requires people – and here think of families with little children or seniors – to continue waiting on the streets indefinitely, that is for weeks or months, before receiving meaningful assistance is wildly insufficient. 
  • a solution that puts a roof over the heads of 10% or 20% of a target group is still practically far closer to no solution at all (a 0% solution) than a complete 100% solution.  Governor Newsom, are you listening?     

Our group’s little solution for a portion of the homeless families with children in northern OC is still wildly insufficient. 

We will put some of these families into apartments, but then we are the St. Vincent de Paul Societies of three average Catholic Parishes in Northern OC that have come together to try to do at least this. 

We don’t have the emergency powers that the County and State have that could put all of the County’s / State’s homeless families with small children and all of the County’s / State’s homeless Seniors into hotel rooms immediately.

The County and the State both could do this – make an emergency declaration – and get access to the funds to put every homeless family with little kids and every homeless senior into a hotel room while everyone figured out what else to do.  To be honest, for both groups of people finding themselves homeless, that would probably be enough.

What of the rest?  Well, it gets harder, but a lifetime of talking to homeless 30-45 year olds, as well as 5-6 years of doing so intensively, makes me believe that virtually everyone would understand.  These are people too, and it also breaks their hearts to see a 5 year old warming him/herself by a dumpster fire, or 75 year old carrying around a breathing machine that needs to be plugged in, somewhere. 

This can be fixed, meaningfully, and now.

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

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