The much-anticipated Homeless Death Review Report was released Monday by Santa Barbara Public Health Department officials, and though it doesn’t conclusively explain why so many homeless people have died here recently, it does illuminate the web of factors behind homeless peoples’ greater vulnerability to death and how the county is failing to help them.
The 41-page report, commissioned by the Board of Supervisors in February, is full of charts, tables and pie graphs all analyzing the deaths of 45 homeless persons in Santa Barbara County between January 2009 and March 2010. The individuals were chosen under strict criteria for homelessness here. One drawback of the analyses is that in 18 of the 45 cases, no cause of death was included on their death certificate, weakening the ability of the study to make conclusions. On the other hand, since the county Public Health Department has authority to access its patients’ medical records, a good deal of information could be gleaned from their encounters—or lack of encounters—with the public health and mental health systems. To read more, see homelessinsb.org.