South Bay homeless advocates paint gravestones to mark homeless deaths – CBS San Francisco

SAN JOSE (KPIX) – Homeless advocates say at least five people have died overnight this week from the cold and they say city and county leaders must do more to prevent this from happening reproduces itself.

“It’s graphic, it’s in your face, it’s undeniable, it really strikes a chord with people,” said Shaunn Cartwright of Unhoused Response Group. “Now when people are dead you can’t say nothing, you can’t say I’m sorry. “

Shaunn Cartwright with Unhoused Response Group paints names and ages of those who died while not staying in San Jose

Cartwright and other URG members painted the names and ages of the homeless people who died for a memorial they will display publicly on December 21. It is the longest night of the year and the organizers have chosen it as the time when they want to dedicate a tombstone to everyone. person who died in 2021 while homeless. The event will take place outside of the Santa Clara County offices in San Jose.

“The medical examiner confirms that a number of recent homeless deaths are under investigation for possible exposure to cold / hypothermia,” the county said in a statement. “As the investigation is still ongoing, no further information is available at this time.”

Cartwright says she was told at least five people died in one night and she fears more may have died this week in the county. She says more warming centers are needed in San Jose, especially downtown. The centers alone are not enough for her, she wants their hours to be extended and more food to be offered.

“You can’t warm up, you can’t dry off and all you think about is, literally, ‘I want to die.’ It’s the worst feeling you can have, “recalls RJ Ramsey. He has been homeless for 10 years and now works with URG to help others improve their situation.” I could very easily have been one. people on gravestones I’m 55 and I’ve painted a lot of gravestones for people in their 50s and realize that I could very easily have been dead right now.

The city of San Jose announced Friday that it will open an overnight warming site – or OWL – in the evening and another Monday. Both will remain open until April 30. Hours of operation are 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily, but a referral is required to stay in an OWL.

“It’s a lot harder for older people to get around, to get food, to get services because a lot of them have mobility issues,” Cartwright told KPIX on Friday.

The county also offers library locations as shelters and has 1,972 beds available in shelters year-round. Cartwright says that’s not enough for the thousands of people she believes live on the streets. She is also concerned that many will not be able to make it to shelters even if there is a bed available for them.

“Part of the reason we’re doing this is so you can see these tombstones, you can’t deny it, it’s not just numbers. Every gravestone is a person and you can see their name, you can see their age, ”she said.

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