Paso Robles, CA – Sept. 2, 2020      The temporary camping facility for homeless residents has been operational at the Borkey Flats site for a few weeks. The site has restrooms, showers, and a safe needle exchange program, and a safe parking area….. The City’s Community Action Team (CAT) has been visiting homeless encampments in the riverbed. They have visited 15-20 camps and informed individuals of the new camping site and of the city’s intent to clean up the riverbed to mitigate fire risk and protect water quality…… To date, three encampments have been cleaned up of all debris and waste products. The camping site has not seen high levels of utilization to date, but the city has seen a drop in fire activity since the CAT team has been active and cleanup has begun….. The city will need to move the Borkey Flats encampment in the winter given that it is in the flood plain, and continues to work with homeless service provider partners to identify long-term solutions…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER    …..     …..
Sacramento, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Gov. Newsom said Wednesday that California is making an “unprecedented” effort to address homelessness, two days after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to massively increase housing production….. The governor said the state has placed more than 22,000 homeless Californians in 16,400 hotel and motel rooms amid the pandemic, and is giving cities and counties $600 million to purchase the rooms and convert them into permanent housing….. Local governments also got another $628 million in emergency homelessness aid….. “It’s self-evident that this has to be our top priority and it is,” said Newsom……   A bill heading to Newsom’s desk would create a state Office to End Homelessness, led by a new “homelessness czar.” But the governor said Wednesday he already has a homelessness czar — a seemingly fluid title, given that he’s used it to refer to six people in the past two years, including himself……      HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..
Stanton, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The County of Orange and Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted three applications as co-applicants and in partnership with the City of Stanton under the State Homekey program, all located in the City of Stanton, for a total request of $28.1 million in funding…..   The County recently received word that the State reserved funding for both The Tahiti Motel and Stanton Inn and Suites applications….. Two of the motels identified for funds in the City of Stanton include The Stanton Inn and Suites, on Katella Avenue and the Tahiti Motel, on Beach Boulevard. A third motel is in negotiation with the motel owner, they say. By the end of the project, 132 new affordable homes will be available for those experiencing homelessness.   Although this does not yet represent an award from the State, it is one step closer to securing funding to make the Homekey program work…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..     …..  
Oxnard, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The Vagabond Inn in Oxnard could soon transition from an affordable hotel option to permanent supportive housing for 70 of the county’s homeless residents, thanks to a state funding effort that aims to house California’s most vulnerable homeless individuals….. The Vagabond Inn is under consideration for funding under Project Homekey, the next phase in the state’s efforts to protect homeless residents who are high-risk for COVID-19. In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $600 million in funding for cities and counties to convert motels, hotels and other housing types into permanent housing…..  “This is an opportunity that allows us to both respond to COVID-19 and respond to homelessness and the long-term need to provide housing,” said Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
San Francisco, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Bay Area universities and homeless advocates released a report on Thursday revealing the various barriers homeless San Franciscans face when accessing housing…..  The report’s authors, the Coalition on Homelessness and researchers with the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Santa Clara University surveyed 600 temporarily housed San Franciscans, with a focus on transgender people …..  Participants revealed inequities that homeless transgender people face to obtain housing, poor shelter conditions, crowded living spaces and strict curfews, created even more barriers to housing. Fifty-eight percent of participants said they would prefer a legal homeless camp with basic amenities like showers and toilets while 34 percent reported having substance abuse issues…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
San Francisco, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Bay Area universities and homeless advocates released a report on Thursday revealing the various barriers homeless San Franciscans face when accessing housing…..  The report’s authors, the Coalition on Homelessness and researchers with the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Santa Clara University surveyed 600 temporarily housed San Franciscans, with a focus on transgender people …..  Participants revealed inequities that homeless transgender people face to obtain housing, poor shelter conditions, crowded living spaces and strict curfews, created even more barriers to housing. Fifty-eight percent of participants said they would prefer a legal homeless camp with basic amenities like showers and toilets while 34 percent reported having substance abuse issues…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Stanton, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The County of Orange and Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted three applications as co-applicants and in partnership with the City of Stanton under the State Homekey program, all located in the City of Stanton, for a total request of $28.1 million in funding…..   The County recently received word that the State reserved funding for both The Tahiti Motel and Stanton Inn and Suites applications….. Two of the motels identified for funds in the City of Stanton include The Stanton Inn and Suites, on Katella Avenue and the Tahiti Motel, on Beach Boulevard. A third motel is in negotiation with the motel owner, they say. By the end of the project, 132 new affordable homes will be available for those experiencing homelessness.   Although this does not yet represent an award from the State, it is one step closer to securing funding to make the Homekey program work…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..     …..  
Paso Robles, CA – Sept. 2, 2020      The temporary camping facility for homeless residents has been operational at the Borkey Flats site for a few weeks. The site has restrooms, showers, and a safe needle exchange program, and a safe parking area….. The City’s Community Action Team (CAT) has been visiting homeless encampments in the riverbed. They have visited 15-20 camps and informed individuals of the new camping site and of the city’s intent to clean up the riverbed to mitigate fire risk and protect water quality…… To date, three encampments have been cleaned up of all debris and waste products. The camping site has not seen high levels of utilization to date, but the city has seen a drop in fire activity since the CAT team has been active and cleanup has begun….. The city will need to move the Borkey Flats encampment in the winter given that it is in the flood plain, and continues to work with homeless service provider partners to identify long-term solutions…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER    …..     …..
Sacramento, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Gov. Newsom said Wednesday that California is making an “unprecedented” effort to address homelessness, two days after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to massively increase housing production….. The governor said the state has placed more than 22,000 homeless Californians in 16,400 hotel and motel rooms amid the pandemic, and is giving cities and counties $600 million to purchase the rooms and convert them into permanent housing….. Local governments also got another $628 million in emergency homelessness aid….. “It’s self-evident that this has to be our top priority and it is,” said Newsom……   A bill heading to Newsom’s desk would create a state Office to End Homelessness, led by a new “homelessness czar.” But the governor said Wednesday he already has a homelessness czar — a seemingly fluid title, given that he’s used it to refer to six people in the past two years, including himself……      HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..
Oxnard, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The Vagabond Inn in Oxnard could soon transition from an affordable hotel option to permanent supportive housing for 70 of the county’s homeless residents, thanks to a state funding effort that aims to house California’s most vulnerable homeless individuals….. The Vagabond Inn is under consideration for funding under Project Homekey, the next phase in the state’s efforts to protect homeless residents who are high-risk for COVID-19. In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $600 million in funding for cities and counties to convert motels, hotels and other housing types into permanent housing…..  “This is an opportunity that allows us to both respond to COVID-19 and respond to homelessness and the long-term need to provide housing,” said Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..

What Is Killing Homeless Persons If Not COVID-19?

By: Tim Houchen
November 14, 2020 —

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Originally, our Memorial Wall was designed in 2016 to fit 240 names of people that passed away during the year while experiencing homelessness. The layout for each individual slab designates three columns with each column containing 20 names for a total of 60 names per slab. Multiply 60 names by 4 slabs equaling a total of 240 names that could be placed on the memorial each year.

That was in 2016 when the homeless death toll had yet to exceed 200 persons in a single year here in Orange County. The number had been slowly rising since about 2011 or so, but we were closing in on the 200 mark.

2017 marked a year in which 207 persons experiencing homelessness died in Orange County. We surpassed the 200 mark, or dare I say we blew right past it and set a new record. There were an ample number of slots on the memorial wall to accommodate more names, unfortunately.

There was contention in 2018 when a new record number of homeless persons, a total of 244, passed away. Suddenly, we were 4 names in excess of the design of our original layout of the memorial wall.

Adding 4 names was not the difficult part of this particular annual process for me, but understanding that each of the names represents the life of a human being, the total existence of someone that died on our streets without a place to call home, that’s what really bothered me. Many of these people I had known personally and I was devastated more than ever by this.

In 2019, we caught a break. 206 persons lost their lives while homeless in Orange County. Sure, the total was less than the previous 2 years, but how can you find relief in that knowing that more lives could have been saved? Knowing that more could have been done to bring the number of deaths lower yet?

Then 2020 rolled in with its creepy coronavirus. By March there were reports that homeless deaths were increasing and the numbers might be on pace to set a new record. By May there were predictions that homeless deaths in 2020 could hit the 300 mark. The experts told us that there were no indications that coronavirus was causing the increases, but at the same time, no explanations whatsoever were indicated as to how homeless persons were now dying at a higher rate than ever before.

Health experts created a slogan to raise public awareness and flatten the curve of the virus.

“We’re all in this together.” they said

They should have added, “except for homeless folks.”

Sure, the Governor came up with a brilliant plan to house homeless persons in California by putting them up in motels. Certainly there were far more dormant motel rooms across the state than there were homeless persons. Each and every homeless person should have had a place where they could protect themselves from the virus as many did. Instead, the group of persons designated by society as second-class homeless citizens was indeed divided into a third-class consisting of homeless persons that did not qualify for Project Roomkey. They were told by authorities to check in to congregate homeless shelters or risk being cited for camping ordinances. In the middle of a world-wide pandemic?

What about those ad nauseum NIMBY protests surrounding the prospective locations for Roomkey facilities? Those were some sad days.

COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on people around the globe, but no persons have been impacted more than those persons experiencing homelessness. If I could, I would impart the reality of their struggle through COVID-19. In truth, all I can do is ask that you imagine that struggle as if it were you experiencing it yourself.

At the onset of precautions and restrictions resulting from the initial lockdown orders, most public places that allowed homeless persons to use restroom facilities prior to the pandemic were closed down.

There were few places available for homeless persons before COVID, then there were none. It’s likely that far too often a homeless individual has had to take care of his bathroom business much too close to where he and others sleep. There are implications that hygiene on the streets has become more difficult to manage and has certainly fallen below the standards for suppressing a rampant virus, especially if there is no place to wash up after going to the bathroom.

There are other factors that add to the struggle like eating. Volunteer groups that often fed people on the streets either voluntarily discontinued serving meals and in some cases were asked by local authorities to not feed the homeless. For some time, dining in has not been an option. If you can’t walk-up and order while standing in a drive-thru, where do you get your bargain burger?

Panhandling is important for some homeless persons in order to provide income to purchase food. Mid-pandemic and no one wants to roll down their window and risk contracting COVID by giving a buck to a homeless guy holding a sign at the end of a freeway offramp.

There are so many more obstacles for persons experiencing homelessness to negotiate since COVID emerged that there is not enough space for this article to document it. There are so many excuses for our society to deny solutions to end homelessness. Why can’t society get it right? All lives matter. There can be no justice until the very least of us are freed from our binds. Social justice is built from the ground up. Lift up those on the ground first.

 And, it’s not near being over yet.

So many of my homeless brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors are dying. It doesn’t seem to bother people enough, at least it doesn’t bother them as much as it bothers me.

So. I ask the question once again.

What would you do?

I’m not talking about adding names to our memorial wall either. I can re-configure the layout to add another column with enough space for the names on the slabs. What I specifically want to know is, what would you do to spare their lives, the lives that belong to the names that appear on our memorial wall?

Updates

Thanks

Thanks to all of the people that showed concern for my immediate and unexplained departure from my duties as a homeless advocate, service provider, publisher, etc. I have been experiencing some ongoing medical issues that have required much of my attention and every bit of strength to overcome. I will now attempt to kickstart my Facebook presence once again. I am OK, again for now. I appreciate the inquiries received regarding my disappearance and I’m ready to return to my work. Thank you.

A new assignment

I was recently elected to serve on the Orange County Continuum of Care Board. I look forward to meeting the challenges that are found at that level of decision-making that is so critical to the system of care that our county provides for persons experiencing homelessness and those who are considered at-risk of becoming homeless.

COMING SOON!
The Longest Night and National Homeless Persons Memorial Day December 21, 2020

Many persons have asked about this year’s “Longest Night” event. I have been a lead organizer of this event in recognition of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day in Orange County since 2015.  

Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to conduct our traditional program that includes a candle light vigil and a ceremonial recital of the names of homeless persons that passed during the year. We will, however, present a virtual event in partnership with the “Women Drivers Interfaith Group.” The wonderful ladies in this group are skilled professionally at doing these types of events where on the other hand, I am not so much. The event will take place on the same day as usual, December 21st. More details will be upcoming and all official event information will be made available at our “OC Longest Night Memorial” page.

Stay tuned for information regarding an additional program that will broadcast on YouTube and Facebook Live beginning at 1:00 PM on December 21st and will run until the 7:00 PM “Longest Night” broadcast. The all-day program will feature an amazing lineup of music relating to homelessness, interviews, special guests and some surprises too. More info about this soon.


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More articles for you —

Homeless People Were Largely Spared In Coronavirus’ First Wave. But They Need Help To Stay Alive

Activists Concerned Over Rise In Orange County Homeless Deaths

Historic Homelessness in OC: The Darkest Days of the Santa Ana River Trail

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3 Comments on "What Is Killing Homeless Persons If Not COVID-19?"

  1. We cannot hope in ourselves or others. Our Hope lies Elsewhere and we as His Conduits must do our best and pray for the rest. Ezekiel 16:49
    Behold, this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters (outlying cities) had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.

  2. How come there is no share button
    Good stuff- like your site
    I am sending as many photos as Dot needs to do a retrospective- since it is impossible to show photo of all those that died this year- she is doing some kind of slide show which could be good! Hang in there partner- love you, Dave

  3. Hi, love the fact that you are an advocate as I am. My daughter was homeless. I’ve start an organization in my daughters’ honor to fight homeslessnes and addiction. Good to know others feel the way I do, combating homelessness!!!!

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