Homeless advocates demand action after record number of homeless deaths in past year


The Community Homeless Alliance Ministry and Serve the People San Jose will be hosting a news conference Wednesday protesting what they say is the recent discovery of a record number of homeless deaths in the county -- 158 -- since Dec. 1, 2017.

According to Pastor Scott Wagers of CHAM, the all-time high number increased over the previous record of 135 deaths that was set in the same timeframe between 2016 and 2017. Wagers said the recent record is a significant increase over the 1999 count of 33 homeless deaths.

"I was shocked when I heard it," Wagers said. "I thought it might have gone down."

Wagers points to what he considers a huge housing shortage coupled with high rents that have led to what he said is an out-of-control death rate.

"The rate at which they build housing isn't enough," he said.

The news conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. on one of the properties that Google recently purchased for its proposed downtown San Jose Googleplex, at 510 W. San Fernando St.

"If you want to do something, do something for the homeless," said Wagers of the recent sale of the land to the tech giant.

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20 people like this
Posted by Housing Advocate
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 19, 2018 at 12:19 pm

You have to look at the homeless number in conjunction with mental health and drug abuse issues. To talk about one without the other is meaningless and does not get at one of the root causes. But make no mistake, high city fees to fund employee salaries and pensions and a council that looks for opportunities to scale back housing in already zoned high density areas is more of a problem.

21 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 19, 2018 at 12:22 pm

We used to live in San Francisco years ago. The city at that time gave out vouchers to the homeless so they could go to the cheap hotels in the downtown area. The majority of them never used them as the hotels had a no drugs or alcohol policy.

To say that the high cost of living here is the problem for all the homelessness is wrong. You also have a lot of people with mental health issues on the streets who should be institutionalized as they need constant care to make sure they are taking their meds. Sadly, this is lacking since Pres.Clinton at the time closed most of the mental hospitals and said we are going to give meds to these people and let them get out so they could have a life for themselves. It did not work out.

Our mild weather here, and other services being offered to these people have attracted people from all over the country to come here, regardless of the high cost of living here.

8 people like this
Posted by Old Mtn View
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Wait a sec. Closing the mental hospitals happened when budgets were slashed under Regan.... nobody argues about that...

Please let’s stop saying we can build our way out of this problem! The demand is huge for housing and more job seekers are flooding into town each year, and many that are already working here have a big commute and will buy a house or rent a house in town as soon as they can.... you cannot build your way out of this in any sort of sane way... way too much pent up demand.

20 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

A far more useful metric to measure homeless deaths would be death rate per homeless person. I didn't see anything in this article about whether or not there has been a significant increase of homeless that might be correlated with this increased number of deaths. Also, since the opioid crisis is increasing across the USA, it'd be instructive to know whether or not increased opioid use contributed to this increased number of deaths. Without such information, it is not possible to adjust policy as needed to reduce deaths.

11 people like this
Posted by Already Way Too Much Housing
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 19, 2018 at 8:00 pm

There is already way too much housing already being constructed, as well as more about to be constructed. Housing is not a problem, neither is the high prices to rent or buy. Seems like most of the problem comes from drug abuse. Many homeless will continue to abuse drugs, but the ones who actually try and turn their life around should be given a chance. Some people are homeless due to unfortunate circumstances like a divorce/lawsuit, and fall short on rent a bit too late. That's completely different than another person who would rather continue to live on the streets in a tent. I really don't want my taxpayers money to be used to provide housing for those who don't care of don't try. It should be used to fix the problem, not help it. Maybe help rehabilitate?

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