SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 93 people died while living on the streets of Sacramento County in the first half of this year, according to the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. The coalition released its new report this week.
The deaths were reported between Jan. 1 through July 31 of this year.
The report finds 13% of the deaths were by natural causes. 49% of the deaths were by substance abuse, and the majority were linked to methamphetamines. 26% were violent deaths, most by blunt force.
There are also disparities based on race. In the first half of 2022, almost half the deaths were people of color. The majority of deaths by homicide were also people of color.
In Sacramento County, one person experiencing homelessness dies every two days in mid-year 2022, according to the report.
For Kerry Anne Fallgren, it’s not a report but a reality she faces everyday on the streets of Sacramento.
“Scared, I’m scared I’m going to wake up or not wake up one morning,” said Fallgren.
Fallgren has seen the data in the report play out first hand.
“Friends that I’ve watched their stuff, they’ve watched my stuff, one minute they are here, and before my eyes drop, literally. I’ve had somebody that I knew die right in front of me,” said Fallgren.
She wasn’t surprised by the report and neither was the author, Bob Erlenbusch.
Last year was the first time people froze to death, eight in total. There’s already been one hypothermia death this year, but it’s not mentioned in the report because it happened after those first six months of the year.
“The city created a warming center for 50 people. That’s obviously not to scale. Open up empty buildings. We have lots of unused office buildings. The city and county need to create programs to scale,” said Erlenbusch.
The county is currently providing 1,300 beds and Janna Haynes, spokesperson for the county, said they know it’s not enough.
“It is just something we are working so hard to decrease, and I don’t know how quickly we will be able to decrease it. We have so many new resources coming up in the next year, six months,” said Haynes.
Sacramento County is putting $10 million toward 156 beds for substance use disorder, $5 million for behavioral health crisis units, and the county has also approved two Safe Stay communities, which will add another 165 beds.
A warming center is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at 1725 28th Street in Sacramento. For additional warming centers, check HERE.