During the last 10 days of January in the United States, tens of thousands of persons participate in homeless counts across the country tallying the number of persons who are found living on the streets and in shelters.
An increasing number of us have become more aware of the tally of homeless persons who die while living on the streets because of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. On the first day of winter, December 21, the longest night of the year we remember those who have died with nowhere to call home. Too many members of the public are not fully aware that prolonged exposure to homelessness has a significant negative effect on individuals that can result in death. Homelessness is much more than the absence of physical housing; it is a tension-filled, trauma-filled, and treacherous condition that often results in injuries and fatalities.
People who were homeless have been brought to county morgues where coroner office staff determined that they died by electrocution, thermal injuries, hypothermia, environmental exposure, and blunt force injuries including traffic accidents and being crushed to death by large objects such as garbage bins.
The stories are both tragic and gruesome. The Guardian U.S. News Edition did a “review of news reports from the last decade (and) found at least 50 cases of dumpster-related homeless deaths and serious injuries.” The act of trash collection itself is fatal as noted in the story:
- A man in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was tipped out of a dumpster and then run over by a garbage truck;
- In Fort Worth, Texas, a screaming man had a heart attack after the dumpster he was inside was picked up;
- More common are situations in which homeless people, sleeping in dumpsters or sheltering from the elements, are collected by garbage or recycling trucks and compacted (and crushed) along with the trash.
Other media stories highlight more tragedies like these.
California County Counts
In order to raise more awareness about persons dying on the streets while homeless, Urban Initiatives has begun a project to complete a count of all persons who died in 2017 while homeless for all 58 counties in California. During the coming weeks and months, we will work to complete the following table based on available information about the number of persons who died in their county last year .
If you have such information or would like to comment about this post please click here.
|County||# of persons who died while homeless during a recent 12-month period||Source|
|Butte||3||Butte County Public Health Department|
|Fresno||64||Social Justice Ministry, Diocese of Fresno|
|Kern||25||Kern County Sheriff’s Office|
|Merced||8||Homeless Persons Memorial Service, December 2017|
|Napa||8||Health and Human Services Agency, Napa County|
|Riverside||85||Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office|
|Sacramento||71||Sacramento County 2016 Homeless Deaths Report prepared by the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness|
|San Bernardino||90||San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department/Coroner’s Division|
|San Luis Obispo|
|Santa Barbara||44||Deaths Among People Experiencing Homelessness in Santa Barbara County 1/1/2015 to 12/31/2016 By the Santa Barbara County
Homeless Death Review Team (HDRT)
|Shasta||19||Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency|
|Sutter||1||Sutter County Health and Human Services-for Public Health|
|Tulare||4||Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency|
|Yuba||6||Yuba County Health & Human Services|