The first-ever Homeless Mortality Report was released by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (HCSA) this week, a retrospective analysis on homeless deaths from 2018 to 2020. The report shows a dramatic 89% increase in the number of annual homeless deaths over those three years and examines cause of death, disparities in race and gender.

In total, 809 homeless individuals died in Alameda County between 2018 and 2020. Additional key findings include:

  • 77% of homeless deaths occurred among men, 23% were women.
  • 66% of homeless deaths occurred in non-medical settings – streets, sidewalks, parks, vehicles, shelters, encampments, railroads, transit, motel, and other locations.
  • 50% of homeless deaths were due to acute/chronic medical conditions, led by heart and cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease, and others.
  • 41% of total homeless deaths were African American/Black persons.
  • 34% of deaths occurred in medical facilities such as hospitals, nursing facilities, or in jail.
  • 23% of deaths were due to drug overdose.

The report was developed by HCSA’s Health Care for the Homeless and Community Assessment Planning and Evaluation (CAPE) departments. To obtain the count, the team developed a data matching method across utilization lists and death certificate records in the California Electronic Death Registration system to record and analyze the deaths of people experiencing homelessness who passed away in hospitals, nursing facilities, and private residences. This approach results in more detailed information beyond currently available reports of deaths among people experiencing homelessness in Alameda County.

The report will aid in the efforts to forge multiple touchpoints across the homelessness system of care, including housing, health clinics, hospitals, emergency room, behavioral health, social services, outreach, and criminal justice. Health care and homeless services providers will have the access to analyze the data and create recommendations for policy and practice changes that contribute to the reduction of preventable deaths among people experiencing homelessness.

Read the complete Homeless Mortality report here.