Another 51 people died without fixed abode in OC in September, 400 for year with 3 months to go and … the living have no place to go.
Fifty one people died “without fixed abode” in OC in September, 2023. Their names are:
Lawrence MORGAN who died on September 1st in Anaheim
Jose MARTINEZ who died on September 2nd in Santa Ana
Ivan ESCOBAR who died on September 2nd in Santa Ana
Perry PARCHINSKI who died on September 2nd in Huntington Beach
Brittany MANNION who died on September 2nd in Anaheim
David LEBER who died on September 2nd in Garden Grove
Jose REYES who died on September 3rd in Anaheim
Luis COT who died on September 4th in Fountain Valley
Michelle HOLMES who died on September 4th in Westminster
Jarrod GORDON who died on September 4th in Anaheim
Jessey CASTILLO who died on September 4th in Fullerton
Jeffrey MARKEL who died on September 5th in Costa Mesa
Jose MEJIA who died on September 5th in Fountain Valley
Anthony THOMAS who died on September 5th in Fullerton
Daniel RAYMEN who died on September 6th in San Clemente
Vu LAM who died on September 6th in Santa Ana
Marie CORTEZ who died on September 6th in Garden Grove
Donald LEWIS who died on September 6th in Orange
Michael BRYCE who died on September 8th in Garden Grove
Paul CARPENTER who died on September 9th in Sunset Beach
Leslie REQUE who died on September 9th in Cypress
Patrick OMALLEY who died on September 9th in Anaheim
James MARCUSE who died on September 10th in Newport Beach
Armando VALLADARES who died on September 10th in Orange
Miguel VALDEZ who died on September 10th in Placentia
Stanley ARONSON who died on September 13th in Mission Viejo
Gale WAKEFIELD who died on September 14th in Westminster
Francisco RODRIGUEZ-LUCIO who died on September 17th in Santa Ana
Fernando RODRIGUEZ who died on September 17th in Buena Park
Van NGUYEN who died on September 19th in Fountain Valley
Thomas NISHIDA who died on September 20th in Newport Beach
Cheyenne BRYANT who died on September 21st in Santa Ana
Juan GALVAN-MARTINEZ who died on September 21st in Costa Mesa
Patrick WILSON II who died on September 21st in Santa Ana
Guy LEVINE who died on September 23rd in Fullerton
Lorine HOANG who died on September 23rd in Orange
Jeehoo AHN who died on September 23rd in Irvine
David CROWELL who died on September 24th in Garden Grove
Karen MARTIN who died on September 24th in Fountain Valley
Kari GORDON who died on September 26th in Anaheim
Najib FAZAI who died on September 26th in Santa Ana
Kevin MOLYNEAUX who died on September 27th in Irvine
Mark ESTRADA who died on September 27th in Santa Ana
Richard BLOCH III who died on September 27th in Orange
Steven SMITH who died on September 28th in Huntington Beach
Antonio AVALOS who died on September 28th in Orange
Hanh HO who died on September 29th in Fountain Valley
Pablo PEREZ CENTENO who died on September 29th in Newport Beach
Maria ONTIVEROS who died on September 29th in Santa Ana
Mark GIAN who died on September 30th in Buena Park
Jose MARTINEZ who died on September 30th in Santa Ana
Additionally there were two persons who died “without fixed abode” in OC in previous months, but were only placed in the Coroner’s records last month.
Ruben RODRIGUEZ who died on July 23rd in Orange
Martin GARCIA who died on August 23rd in Orange
All told, a record 400 people have died “without fixed abode” in OC since the beginning of the year. For comparison, last year, then also a record year, 371 people without fixed abode had died in the county by this point in the year. So the death rate is 7.8% (400/371) higher than last year.
Unless things change, and there is no reason to believe that they will, 533 people without fixed abode will die by for the year, an equivalent of 9.3% of the beginning of the year homeless population (5718 by the last federally mandated PIT Count).
And it gets worse (Readers, this will not be a cheerful article): At a recent Housing is a Human Right OC meeting, it was noted that the death rate in 2021 among the general population was 0.43% (13,560 deaths out of a population of 3.167 million). So the death rate among those who are without fixed abode in OC is nearly 22 times higher (9.3 / 0.43) than that of the County’s general population.
Okay, those are the numbers. How does it feel on the ground?
Well, again not too good, certainly not at St. Philip Benizi Parish where I am stationed.
After several years of relative calm, we’ve all noticed an uptick in both the number of people who find themselves homeless coming to our doors and the number of people sleeping on our grounds. I’ve told both the Police and our Parishioners that we are back to 2017, when we had five or so people consistently sleeping on our grounds (not 2019 when we had 30, but 2017 when we had five).
And unlike 2017 (or 2019 for that matter), we’ve had some vandalism. I believe that this has been largely due to frustrations on the part of both parishioners tired of seeing people who are homeless regularly coming our grounds again (call it compassion fatigue), and then the folks who are homeless tired of noting to said frustrated parishioners that they really have no place to go, again.
OMG, they have no place to go? Yes.
The shelters in Northern Orange County, especially for the most vulnerable populations, families, women, are once again full.
This actually should be no surprise as Northern Orange County has never been required to provide beds for 60% of its homeless population as had been proposed by Judge Carter. Instead, they cut a deal early with the Courts and were required to provide beds for somewhere only between 30-45% of their homeless populations. But the results can now be plainly seen – between 55-70% of North County’s homeless population now languish on our streets, and unless something changes, will remain on our streets indefinitely.
I know this from calling in on behalf of both two women and family (a grandmother with three grandchildren) in the past 10 days.
With regard to the women for whom I tried to get assistance, I was told by North OC’s generally optimistic / energetic Hope Center, that one has to call in for help at 7:30 AM (when it opens each weekday), to have a chance. I was told this when I called on behalf of one of the women at 9:30 AM, and the outreach workers came out in their Hope Center van at 9:45 and we all sat down to try to get the woman into a shelter for the following night, and yet, everything, even at 9:45 AM was already full.
So the next day, I called at 7:30 AM. The Hope Center responded saying as soon as they could put together a team, they would come out.
In the meantime, the poor woman, who had slept on our campus the previous night had her little suitcase and school backpack all packed. But when the Hope Center van arrived the two outreach workers told her the bad news, that already as of 8:30 AM the Buena Park and Placentia Shelters were full, and that they were still checking with the Illumination Foundation’s Fullerton Navigation Center but were not optimistic. It turned out that IF’s center was full, for women anyway, as well.
Since it was Friday, the woman was looking then to sleep on our campus over the weekend, with no reason to believe that the situation would prove any better the following week.
By the end of the weekend, the woman found some arrangement, I fear quite desperate, on her own.
With regard to the family, Readers take note the screenshot that serves as the picture for this article. After filling out the requisite intake form, the grandmother was informed that she should expect to wait up to three days to get a call back to begin the process of getting any help at all.
Now, I want to be clear here that I do not see this as the fault of the outreach workers. They can’t offer what they don’t have.
But for the rest of us, could you imagine being a grandparent in charge of three kids, and sleeping on the couch of a friend, with the kids sleeping on the floor, and thanking one’s lucky stars that one had the couch and floor at all? And also could you imagine the anxiety knowing that couch, even from a best friend, could not be expected to exist forever.
However, the anxiety and horror stretches further for those sleeping on the streets.
While it may not be immediately obvious to most of us (it wasn’t to me), people who have no place to sleep at night ALSO have no place to go during the day, hence why we have folks seeking to crash at least for a couple of hours on our church grounds, “in the shade” by our lovely statue of Mary “with the mantle” … as well as other parks, churches and businesses across our County.
Orange County used to have one place in the entire County where people who were homeless could go during the day, where they were respected, and arguably helped. It was called Mary’s Kitchen. It was located at the end of a cul-de-sac in an industrial section of the City of Orange, one block from the City’s Police Station. For the NIMBY crowd, one could hardly think of a better place to offer such a facility, out of the way, a block away from the Police.
And it was so useful …
Mary’s Kitchen was a place where someone who had no place to go could hang. Yes, one could get a breakfast and a lunch there, but one could also do one’s laundry there, take a shower there, charge one’s phone there, sit like a human being at a table, and talk with friends there.
And yet, even this place was closed down last year, due other priorities of both the City and its residents, and employers.
So now there is no place at all in the entire County where one who is homeless could go during the day, to even begin to get one’s life in order – which starts with a functioning phone, being showered, and wearing clean clothes, in order to have at least some hope of ever landing a job again.
I see the desperation of the people coming to St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church, again. And it’s becoming unbearable to see this, again.
There are decisions that simply have to be made on behalf of these people who are being destroyed before our eyes. If we don’t give these people a place to stay at night, then we have to give them a place to go at least during the day.
And if we don’t, then we all of suffer the consequences and all of us come to be diminished.
Fr. Dennis Kriz, OSM, Pastor St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church, Fullerton.
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