Report: Homeless Deaths Go Uncounted in Bay Area

Andrew Loy begs along a sidewalk in downtown San Francisco on June, 28, 2016. Homelessness is on the rise in the city, which has some of the highest housing costs in the nation.
Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images

Many local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area have failed to keep tabs on the number of homeless people that have died in the area, according to a report.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Alameda County and other local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area do not keep records on the number of homeless people that die per year or their causes of death.

Even if Alameda County collected the data, both the state government and federal government do not require that such data needs to be collected.

The Chronicle investigated several state and federal agencies—including county health departments, coroners’ and medical examiners’ offices, the California Department of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—and found that none had records of homeless deaths.

Of the agencies that do try to keep records of how many homeless people die, they have no guidelines about how they should determine whether someone died homeless.

Even if agencies determine that a person is homeless, that information may never appear on the death certificate, according to the report.

While agencies fail to count the number of deceased homeless people, the number of homeless people in the area has increased by 25 percent over the past two years.


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