[Hpn] FW: 41 Homeless Deaths in Santa Cruz

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Sun, 21 Jan 2001 14:03:19 -0700


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From: "Becky Johnson" <wmnofstl@cruzio.com>
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 20:54:56 -0000
To: "Street Spirit" <spirit@afsc.org>
Cc: "Becky Johnson" <Wmnofstl@cruzio.com>, "Ruben Botillo"
<sananda@hotmail.com>, "Eliah Hecht" <themadhatter@post.com>, "Coalition on
Homelessness" <coh@sfo.com>, "Rabbi Chayim Levin" <ruach613@hotmail.com>,
"Ken Cole" <J2kcole@aol.com>, "Tim Fitzmaurice" <Tfitzm@ricochet.net>
Subject: 41 Homeless Deaths in Santa Cruz

41 Homeless Deaths in Santa Cruz

by Becky Johnson=20

January 20, 2001=20

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- On December 21st, 2000, two employees of the Homeless
Services Center (HSC), both homeless themselves, read the names of the dead=
.
The list prepared by the Homeless Persons Health Project (HPHP) as part of
the National Coalition on Homelessness=B9s annual "Day of Remembrance"
memorialized the names of homeless people who had died in the past year.
Last year, 19 names were read. On this day, the number was 41. HSC Executiv=
e
Director Ken Cole addressed the gathering of both the homeless and the
housed by saying "The first reason we are gathered here is to read the
names, so people are not forgotten, and so that we as a community can
recognize the loss and so we can personally process the loss."

Men in long, scruffy beards, and a woman in a wheelchair moved closer to
listen above the drone of the nearby freeway traffic on this cold morning.
Cole continued, "The second reason is to raise awareness that this should
stop, that people should not die without housing, that people should not di=
e
in the undignified setting that they often die in. It needs to stop. We nee=
d
housing; we need treatment. We need a lot of things to get people off of th=
e
streets. This memorial is being done around the country in many, many
cities. This is our piece of it."

Unlike last year, the HPHP made a coordinated effort to track homeless
deaths with other social services agencies, as well as with the County
Health Services Agency and the Public Administrators=B9 Office. Data was
collected on cause of death, age at death, and area where the body was
found. Although the number, 41, is over twice the number reported last year=
,
it is commonly accepted that neither last year=B9s count nor this year=B9s coun=
t
is definitive.=20

37 of the names were officially verified. Of these, 34 were male and 3 were
female. Six were between 21 years and 30 years old. The largest group, 19,
were between the ages of 41 and 50. Only one was over 70. The major cause o=
f
death, acute overdose, due to alcohol or drugs, claimed 11 lives. Eight die=
d
from chronic substance use. However, cancer, liver disease, HIV, and
pneumonia all claimed lives. Three died of trauma. Two were officially
listed as suicides.

Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice along with former mayor, Celia Scott attended the
ceremony, but did not speak. With the sound of freeway traffic as a
backdrop, Cole spoke with members of the press. He told them "There are mor=
e
deaths than last year. The death rate reflects the hyperactive housing
market and that people are increasing forced to sleep in their cars and cam=
p
out. There are just more people struggling with maintaining housing in this
community."=20

Matt Nathanson of the HPHP, who had known many of the dead personally, said
"There=B9s 37 homeless people who died over the last year and that means thre=
e
people per month. That in and of itself is a lot. Most of them are men. Mos=
t
of them tend to be in the 30 =AD 50 year age range, which is young for people
to die. Also a large number of the deaths were related to overdose or
long-term substance abuse which reminds me of the need for more substance
abuse treatment facilities in the County of all types."

One death, on November 11th, has been a rallying cry for activists. "Boxer"
Billy Denson, a legless man in a wheelchair died of apparent hypothermia in
a carport in the Beach Flats area of Santa Cruz. The winter shelter program
at the National Guard Armory did not open until November 15th. Another
death, Michael "Barefoot" Richards, occurred from a fall into a ravine in
Twin Lakes Park. Barefoot had lived in the park for years, having built a
little shack in a remote area of the park until the rangers found it and
destroyed it.=20

Heroin overdoses in Santa Cruz prompted the Homeless Issues Task Force to
recommend a policy in which if a person overdoses, and those present both
call 911 and stay with the victim until help arrives, that they not be
prosecuted for IV drug use. The policy was summarily rejected by City
Council in June of 2000. According to Jan Tice, Ex. Dir. of Janus, the only
drug treatment facility in Santa Cruz which accepts indigent homeless
clients, their program only has bedspace for one homeless person at a time.

Ken Cole summarized by saying "There=B9s always the message of compassion,
tolerance, and more importantly the message of action. We need to create
housing. We need to create alcohol and drug treatment programs. We need to
get people in off the streets. Stop blaming them and get on with the
business of getting them back into our community."

The Homeless Persons Health Project can be reached at (831) 454-2080

The Homeless Services Center can be reached at (831) 458-6025

Becky Johnson can be reached at Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
(831)423-HUFF



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FW: 41 Homeless Deaths in Santa Cruz



----------
From: "Becky Johnson" <wmnofstl@cruzio.com>
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 20:54:56 -0000
To: "Street Spirit" <spirit@afsc.org>
Cc: "Becky Johnson" <Wmnofstl@cruzio.com>, "Rub= en Botillo" <sananda@hotmail.com>, "Eliah Hecht" <th= emadhatter@post.com>, "Coalition on Homelessness" <coh@sfo.c= om>, "Rabbi Chayim Levin" <ruach613@hotmail.com>, "K= en Cole" <J2kcole@aol.com>, "Tim Fitzmaurice" <Tfitz= m@ricochet.net>
Subject: 41 Homeless Deaths in Santa Cruz

41 Homeless Deaths in Santa Cruz

by Becky Johnson

January 20, 2001


Santa Cruz, Ca. -- On December 21st, 2000, two employees of the Homeless= Services Center (HSC), both homeless themselves, read the names of the = dead. The list prepared by the Homeless Persons Health Project (HPHP)= as part of the National Coalition on Homelessness=B9s annual "Day= of Remembrance" memorialized the names of homeless people who had died= in the past year. Last year, 19 names were read. On this day, the number wa= s 41. HSC Executive Director Ken Cole addressed the gathering of both= the homeless and the housed by saying "The first reason we are gathere= d here is to read the names, so people are not forgotten, and so that we as = a community can recognize the loss and so we can personally process the loss= ."

Men in long, scruffy beards, and a woman in a wheelchair moved closer to li= sten above the drone of the nearby freeway traffic on this cold morning. Col= e continued, "The second reason is to raise awareness that this should = stop, that people should not die without housing, that people should not die= in the undignified setting that they often die in. It needs to stop. We nee= d housing; we need treatment. We need a lot of things to get people off of t= he streets. This memorial is being done around the country in many, many cit= ies. This is our piece of it."

Unlike last year, the HPHP made a coordinated effort to track homeless deat= hs with other social services agencies, as well as with the County Health= Services Agency and the Public Administrators=B9 Office. Data was = collected on cause of death, age at death, and area where the body was found= . Although the number, 41, is over twice the number reported last year, it i= s commonly accepted that neither last year=B9s count nor this year=B9s count is = definitive.

37 of the names were officially verified. Of these, 34 were male and 3 were= female. Six were between 21 years and 30 years old. The largest group, 19, = were between the ages of 41 and 50. Only one was over 70. The major cause of= death, acute overdose, due to alcohol or drugs, claimed 11 lives. Eight die= d from chronic substance use. However, cancer, liver disease, HIV, and pneum= onia all claimed lives. Three died of trauma. Two were officially listed as = suicides.

Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice
along with former mayor, Celia Scott atten= ded the ceremony, but did not speak. With the sound of freeway traffic as a = backdrop, Cole spoke with members of the press. He told them "There are= more deaths than last year. The death rate reflects the hyperactive housing= market and that people are increasing forced to sleep in their cars and cam= p out. There are just more people struggling with maintaining housing in thi= s community."

Matt Nathanson
of the HPHP, who had known many of the dead personally, = said "There=B9s 37 homeless people who died over the last year and that m= eans three people per month. That in and of itself is a lot. Most of them ar= e men. Most of them tend to be in the 30 =AD 50 year age range, which is young= for people to die. Also a large number of the deaths were related to overdo= se or long-term substance abuse which reminds me of the need for more substa= nce abuse treatment facilities in the County of all types."

One death, on November 11th, has been a rallying cry for activists. &quo= t;Boxer" Billy Denson, a legless man in a wheelchair died of appare= nt hypothermia in a carport in the Beach Flats area of Santa Cruz. The winte= r shelter program at the National Guard Armory did not open until Nov= ember 15th. Another death, Michael "Barefoot" Richards, occ= urred from a fall into a ravine in Twin Lakes Park. Barefoot had lived in th= e park for years, having built a little shack in a remote area of the park u= ntil the rangers found it and destroyed it.

Heroin overdoses in Santa Cruz prompted the Homeless Issues Task Force to recommend a policy in which if a person overdoses, and those present b= oth call 911 and stay with the victim until help arrives, that they not be p= rosecuted for IV drug use. The policy was summarily rejected by City Council= in June of 2000. According to Jan Tice, Ex. Dir. of Janus, th= e only drug treatment facility in Santa Cruz which accepts indigent homeless= clients, their program only has bedspace for one homeless person at a time.=

Ken Cole
summarized by saying "There=B9s always the message of compa= ssion, tolerance, and more importantly the message of action. We need to cre= ate housing. We need to create alcohol and drug treatment programs. We need = to get people in off the streets. Stop blaming them and get on with the busi= ness of getting them back into our community."

The Homeless Persons Health Project can be reached at (831) 454-2080

The Homeless Services Center can be reached at (831) 458-6025

Becky Johnson can be reached at Homeless United for Friendship & Fre= edom (831)423-HUFF

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