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Executive Summary of Homeless Deaths 2004

The Homeless Persons Health Project has been compiling annual statistics on homeless deaths in the greater Santa Cruz area. Here is their executive summary of those statistics which was published on Dec. 21, 2004. The reason that the list of homeless deaths had 37 names but the report says 30 deaths is due to the fact that some homeless people were able to get into housing just prior to their deaths and were not included in the statistical study, though no doubt homelessness played a factor in their deaths. --- Becky Johnson of HUFF
SUMMARY OF AVAILABLE DATA ON HOMELESS DEATHS
IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
FOR THE PERIOD DECEMBER 21, 2003 - DECEMBER 20, 2004

PREPARED BY THE SANTA CRUZ COUNTY HOMELESS PERSONS HEALTH PROJECT

Background:
On December 21, 1999, homeless individuals, community and family members, and homeless service providers held the first memorial service to honor homeless people in Santa Cruz County who had died during the past year. Names of individuals to be memorialized were collected through an informal process and came from several sources, including records of the Homeless Persons Health Project (HPHP), other homeless service organizations, and individuals in the community. At that time, no organization maintained a centralized record of homeless deaths.

In response to requests throughout the year from the community for information about homeless deaths and in preparation for what has become an annual community memorial service for those who have died while homeless, HPHP now maintains a log of deaths among homeless individuals in Santa Cruz County. The log includes information on confirmed deaths of clients of the County Homeless Persons Health Project, well as confirmed reports on deaths occurring throughout the year received from other homeless service organizations, medical providers, and homeless individuals. The log includes death certificate data compiled by the County Office of Vital Statistics, and data obtained from the County Public Administrator’s office.

As was the case in past years, the data available to create the report for 2003-2004 are most certainly incomplete. Housing status at the time of death is not well documented or always easily determined. Information on likely factors leading to death also continues to be imprecise, and it is often unknown at the time of death. For the sake of summarizing the information, for each death we have once again assigned a single primary contributing factor, but in many cases, there are multiple significant factors which contribute to an individual’s death.

In short, the data provided in this summary should not be interpreted in any way as a definitive accounting of deaths among the homeless population in our county. Instead, it reflects an ongoing process to collect and analyze accurate data on homeless deaths in a way that is meaningful to homeless service providers, to homeless people, and to the community at large.

While we believe our effort to accurately record and organize information about homeless deaths from an epidemiological standpoint is important, our primary purpose at this time of year is to participate in honoring all those who have died while homeless in our community in the last twelve months. Most of those who have died and are included in the count we provide here were known personally to us at HPHP, and we will miss each one of them. We hope this information will serve to honor their memory, and guide us in our ongoing efforts to improve the health status of all those who are homeless in Santa Cruz County.


DEATHS AMONG HOMELESS PEOPLE, SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
DECEMBER 21, 2003 – DECEMBER 20, 2004

1) TOTAL NUMBER OF REPORTED HOMELESS DEATHS: 30

2) GENDER:
Male 27
Female 3

3) AGE:
under 21 0 41-50 10
21-30 2 51-60 11
31- 40 2 over 60 5

4) RACE:
White 23 Native American 1
Black 1 unknown 2
Hispanic 3

5) KNOWN HISTORY OF MILITARY SERVICE: 4

6) LOCATION AT TIME OF DEATH:
Outside/Vehicle 16
Nursing Facility 4
Motel 2
Temporary Residence 1
Hospital In-Patient 6
Homeless Shelter 1

7) LIKELY PRIMARY FACTOR CONTRIBUTING TO DEATH:
Alcohol and/or drug use (including OD) 14
Acute Infection (blood/skin/pulmonary) 4
Chronic cardiac and/or pulmonary disease 4
Cancer 2
Liver and/or kidney failure 2
Trauma 1
Unknown 3





Santa Cruz County Homeless Persons Health Project --- 140C DuBois Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, (831) 454-2080
 
 


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