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Homeless memorial ceremony honors 33

Modified: Friday, Dec 21st, 2012

Father Joe Miller of Calvary Episcopalian Church offers a reflection about the 33 people that died while being homeless in Santa Cruz County in 2012 Thursday during the annual report on homeless deaths. Memorial flags for each of the deceased are hung above on the wall including seven people from Watsonville. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).

SANTA CRUZ — A woman who calls herself “Tree” told a small crowd gathered at the Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz Thursday about getting through “several bouts” of homelessness before being placed in a stable housing situation in Santa Cruz.

During that time she lived in her vehicle, which she joked put her in the “middle class” of the homeless community.

Her face lit up when she spoke of her new home in the Seabright neighborhood.

“Having that little home is like winning the lottery to me,” she said.

Tree was one of about 60 people who attended the annual Homeless Memorial Ceremony at the center, launched in 1999 to memorialize those who have died while homeless.

That number this year reached 33, which is about average, said public health nurse Matt Nathanson who works with the Homeless Persons Health Project.

Of those, about two-thirds were outside when they died, Nathanson said.

Their average age was about 52, with the oldest being 79 and the youngest 29.

“I feel like these deaths are kind of a slow-motion tragedy,” Nathanson said.

For the complete article see the 12-22-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-22-2012 paper.

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