Homeless Death Review Team Delivers ‘Sobering’ Report

Santa Barbara County Supervisors to Seek $4 Million in State Funding to Help House Homeless Population

Public Health Department Director Van Do-Reynoso (right) and Assistant Director Dana Gamble presented a report on the deaths of homeless people in 2018 to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. | Credit: Len Wood, Staff

Forty-one homeless individuals died in Santa Barbara County in 2018 ​— ​consistent with trends spanning the past seven years. The leading causes of death were cardiovascular disease and drug or alcohol overdose.

The county’s Homeless Death Review Team presented its seventh annual report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, and despite the report’s claim that none of the deaths were attributed to the weather, it put pressure on the county to up the ante on homeless shelters.

“This report is sobering. It clearly outlines the need to build more permanent supportive housing and shelter beds,” said Supervisor Gregg Hart. 

The average age of death among the 41 people was 58 years old, compared to 76 years old in the housed population for the same year.

“I spent over a decade on your streets from ’96 to 2007, and I died twice … when I was out there and was resuscitated,” said Santa Barbaran Dave Hopkins at public comment. “So we’re talking about homeless deaths, and we’re talking about the elements that are out there on the streets today, which are causing these deaths.”

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