4 homeless men die in Santa Clara County in a single day

Santa Clara County says four people who were homeless died in a single day on Tuesday. Each year, about 250 people die on the streets of San Jose. 

With more cold and rainy weather expected, the county says it's activating emergency procedures at least until Thursday night.    

The county reports that four men died on the streets: three were Hispanic or Asian, and at least 50 years old. KTVU spoke with an advocate who says December can be one of the deadliest months of the year, especially for unhoused seniors.     

"When it’s 30 degrees and 40 degrees at night for long stretches of time, this is how people die," said Shaunn Cartwright, founder of the Unhoused Response Group or URG.     

Santa Clara County’s Office of Emergency Management says all county libraries are available as warming centers until closing time on Thursday. There are also two overnight, warming centers available at the West Valley Branch Library and the Roosevelt Community Center in San Jose. 

Still, a local homeless advocacy group says it’s simply not enough. In 2021, the county says 146 seniors died, and over half of them were people of color.  

"There’s over 10,000 unhoused in Santa Clara County. The vast majority of them, 9,000, being in San Jose. There are only two overnight warming locations, which hold 50 people. Five zero. Out of 9,000 people. That’s woefully inadequate for San Jose to be addressing the population of people seeking warming locations," Cartwright, said. 

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URG helps to distribute blankets, tarps, tents and other items provided by the county to people living on the streets. Santa Clara County also has two hotlines: the Here4You call center for those in need of shelter and the HomeFirst Homeless Helpline for information on overnight warming centers.   

Here4You can be reached at (408) 385-2400. The HomeFirst Homeless Helpline can be reached at (408)-539-2105 for their overnight warming centers.  

"It’s so cold and it’s so wet. December has just been so awful to people," Cartwright said.    

According to the county coroner's records, one of the men died in a San Jose hotel room Tuesday, but Cartwright says even getting off the street for a night can be a shock to a person’s system.  

"They could’ve rented a hotel because people end up giving money to people during the holidays. But for some people, it’s just that your body is in such fight or flight mode, that when you actually get a hotel for even just a night, your body just gives out on you," Cartwright said.    

Santa Clara County is also asking that displaced residents living near rivers, creeks, and streams to please seek shelter on higher ground, as another heavy rainstorm is expected in the Bay Area this week.