Homeless Deaths Continue to Grow

Marissa Chavez, Contributing Writer

The number of homeless people dying in Los Angeles County increased about 5 percent — from 622 to 653 — so far this year compared to the same period last year, according to Sarah Ardalani, a spokesperson with the LA County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.

Homeless deaths have been on the rise the past few years, partly due to a lack of medical care. Los Angeles County has approximately 52,000 homeless people, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Los Angeles ranks second in the country for its number of homeless people, according to Mark Casanova, executive director of Homeless Health Care Los Angeles. That’s a nonprofit that offers one-on-one services — such as physical care, mental health care, and substance abuse and prevention — to the homeless and others.

Main illnesses among homeless           

  • HCV
  • Dental issues
  • Diabetes
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Respiratory Disease
  • Emphysema
  • Skin rashes

Source: HHCLA Director Stephany Campos

Representatives of Homeless Health Care Los Angeles have been aware of the rising homelessness issue since 1985 when they founded the organization. It has helped improve the quality of life of over 190,000 men and women, according to the group’s website.

“My agency is the bomb,” Casanova said.

Their integrated treatment program is directed towards assessing behavioral health since 44 percent of homelessness is due to mental health issues. “We use a holistic approach with a unique blending of Eastern and Western philosophies to help support their behavioral health,” said Stephany Campos, the group’s Executive Administrator, who is a Cal State LA graduate.

“Seeing the transformation made in people’s lives is the greatest satisfaction of working here,” said Campos, who received an MPA in 2015.

Harsh living conditions are the leading cause of illness and diseases among the homeless, according to the group. Homeless Health Care provides housing to their patients while they’re being treated and will refer them to shelters, other care centers, and provide jobs once they’re in better shape both physically and emotionally.