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  • Writer's pictureD Lane

Don’t forget to remember… December 18

In a year with so many new sadnesses, an old sadness persists. Every year, dozens of people experiencing homelessness die in Santa Cruz County.

And every year, for the past two decades, the Homeless Persons Health Project and Housing Matters (formerly the Homeless Services Center) have hosted a memorial service to remember the individuals that lost their lives in very dire circumstances.

The most dramatic piece of information that’s highlighted during the memorial each year is the average age of death for the people being remembered: 50 to 55 years old. In other words, the typical life expectancy of a person experiencing homelessness is something like 25 to 30 years fewer than the general population.

I’ve always felt this particular statistic to be particularly important because it demonstrates the foolishness of the “story” too many people make up about unhoused individuals: that their lives are easy and they are coddled. People whose lives are easy and who are coddled do not die 25 years earlier than average. ("coddled" people also have a toilet in their home and a heater and solid walls to protect them from the rain and a door that locks... and yes I am starting to rant!)

If you share my view that the homeless individuals that died this year are important to remember and that the goodness and humanity of each life should be celebrated, please join me and dozens of others connected to our county’s homelessness community for the online memorial: This is the link for free registration on Eventbrite.

And… if you are inclined to learn more about what you can do (or what else you can do) to reduce and end homelessness in our county, please participate in one of the upcoming webinars (yes, another Zoom meeting – but a good one!) sponsored by Housing Matters. The webinar will be concise, participatory and purposeful! And one of the resource people in the webinar will be the extremely distinguished former mayor of Santa Cruz (hint: his initials are DL and he’s worked on homelessness issues in SC for more than 30 years). Here’s the link to sign up. ( The first one is December 10 and there's a second opportunity on January 8.

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