(KRON) — The number of homeless people dying is going up in Alameda County. More than 800 of them died between 2018 and 2020.
According to a new report by the Alameda Healthcare Services Agency, 809 people have died while experiencing homelessness between 2018 and 2020 with the largest increase in deaths in 2020.
Alameda County Board of Supervisors President, Keith Carson says this is the first time the county is diving deeper into where and how the deaths are happening.
The county’s report found that roughly half, or 403 of the homeless deaths, were due to medical conditions, led by heart disease, and followed by cancer, liver disease, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease and more. Meanwhile 25% of the deaths were caused by drug overdoses.
“We found that when we expanded the scope of portals where homeless people come into the system and when they pass, that includes Highland Hospital, or some of our community clinics and other places, that that number was much larger so I was really sad,” Carson said.
Carson says the county plans to double down on its efforts to prevent these deaths.
“We increasingly have more teams going to encampments that include mental health and drug and alcohol specialists,” he added.
Jacqui Berlinn with Mothers Against Drug Deaths has been a strong advocate for cracking down on fentanyl and the open-air drug market in San Francisco as she’s personally seen the impact that it has on East Bay families.
“Unfortunately it’s expected,” Berlinn said, “I expected those numbers and looks like we’re on track to have the same numbers if not worse in this coming year.”
“My son who is an addict on the street is telling me that younger and younger people are coming into the city to buy Fentanyl and he’s really concerned about that because he’s seeing kids young as high school coming in and buying fentanyl,” she continued.
The report reveals that most of those deaths, 56% happened in Oakland, 10% in Hayward, 7% in Berkeley, followed by smaller percentages in 12 other cities.
The county says it will release more information about this report on Wednesday.