14 people die on Santa Clara County streets in September

Santa Clara County says that over a dozen people living on the streets died this month, most of them in San Jose. County officials say a lack of housing, drug use and other health issues are contributing to the increase in deaths.   

County Board Supervisor Cindy Chavez told me that for every two people they’ve placed in housing, another three people become homeless. She says these latest numbers show that there are simply too many people living on the streets and there's no one way to address this issue. 

As of Friday, 14 people have died while living on the streets in Santa Clara County. 

"In one night, I think a few years ago, four people died in one encampment in one night during the cold weather. So, there are a lot of factors obviously on the streets that contribute," said Pastor Scott Wagers, with CHAM Deliverance Ministry.      

Homeless advocates like Pastor Scott Wagers say the number of people dying on the streets continues to climb year after year.  

"But the truth is, if you get people indoors, you’re going to save lives," Wagers said.   

SEE ALSO: Nearly half of Santa Clara County's homeless population are people 55 and older

So far this year, 167 people have died living in the streets in Santa Clara County, the majority of them in San Jose. County Board Supervisor Cindy Chavez says the fentanyl crisis plays a major role in overdoses.  

"In my mind, the thing that we need to do is house people, but we’re doing all that we can so while people are on the street, we’re keeping them as healthy as possible while we’re working to get them into permanent housing," said Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Board member Dist. 2.   

Chavez says county nurses and doctors go to the streets to offer health care and provide Narcan to help prevent overdoses. Still, county data shows 250 people died unhoused last year.  

"We’re trying to push an extension of our services, like number of beds and treatment. So, we have more concerted efforts to get more, for example Narcan, to unhoused residents and at encampments as well," said Supervisor Otto Lee, Santa Clara County Board member for Dist. 3.  

Supervisor Lee says at tomorrow's board meeting, he'll propose opening warming centers earlier than usual. He says the goal is to get people off the streets now, before the rain and cold moves in.