In The Wealthiest Area Of The Country, 7 Homeless People Have Frozen To Death This Winter

Joe White, a homeless man who died during a Bay Area cold snap last weekend, in a photograph with his mother Mary ArchuletaThink Progress  – by Scott Keyes

Joe White was this close to making it.

A 50-year-old California man described by relatives as a “loving father and a doting grandfather,” White had been living on the streets of Hayward for years. He wanted to work and was able to find odd jobs here and there, but it was never much or consistent enough to afford a place to live. Hayward has no emergency shelter with beds for single men, so White slept outside.  

But things were looking up. Last Saturday, White was second on a long list to get permanent supportive housing in Hayward. He had been waiting in line for months and it seemed as though he might finally catch a break.

White died on Sunday.

Temperatures in the Bay Area plummeted to near-freezing on December 10, an uncommon occurrence in a region generally known for its lack of inclement weather. White’s body was found in the old Hayward City Hall courtyard. He’d been beaten up and robbed by multiple men, who took the new winter coat White’s sister had given him on Friday. He was wearing just a hoodie and shorts. His cause of death is still being determined, but police speculated that his death was weather-related.

White is now the seventh homeless person in the Bay Area to die in the cold since November 28. The others were Daniel Brillhart, 52; Enrique Rubio, 56; Andrew Greenleaf, 48; Daniel Moore, 53; and two men in the East Bay and Peninsula whose names have not been released.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless peopledie from hypothermia every year. Those deaths tend to occur in the East Coast and Midwest, not California. But temperatures in the Bay have repeatedly dipped below freezing in the past few weeks, leaving thousands of homeless people in danger.

The Bay Area has one of the highest homeless populations in part because of the explosion of recent wealth that has led to increasing inequality and a lack of affordable housing for those without high-paying tech jobs. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the country, even outpacing New York-Connecticut and Washington DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia. This influx of money has brought higher housing prices and more evictions in the past few years.

And for those viscerally impacted by rising inequality, life is especially difficult when the temperatures drop. Many communities in the Bay Area lack emergency shelters, in part because freezes aren’t very common. But what happens to many of the thousands of people living without shelter in the Bay Area, waiting for their name to be called for the few affordable housing units that exist? “What happens is they die on the street,” Betty DeForest, director emeritus of South Hayward Parish, wrote in an email to the City Council last week following White’s death.

In other words, we live in a society that leaves many people too poor to survive but are surprised to see them die.

8 thoughts on “In The Wealthiest Area Of The Country, 7 Homeless People Have Frozen To Death This Winter

  1. I am sorry, but while this man’s family is busy blaming “the system”, maybe his sister should have got him a motel room for the cold nights instead of a new jacket. Why even buy something new for someone on the streets? It makes that person an obvious target. If the family knew that this man was on the streets and the temperatures were freezing cold, yet did nothing, then they are the ones who failed him.

    1. I think you’re absolutely right, Sunfire. His loving family members bought him a coat to east their own guilt, but they couldn’t take him in on a freezing night because after all, they’re wealthy, and he’s one of those under-achieving, lazy, alcoholic, losers who lives on the street.

      They probably didn’t want their rich friends to know they were related.

      Off with their heads.

    2. Wow,I hope you never find yourself down and out,the hoodrats that have invaded our country did this,the commie gubberment who sold us out to china and other third world slums did this and you blame his fkn sister who probably did WITHOUT to try and help her brother,wow whats next? blame the RAPE VICTIM FOR NOT HAVING THEIR SLIT SEWED SHUT,your heartless response is the poster statement for the insane upside down world.
      How about a little fkn compassion for the guy ,we are a week out from the celebratory day of our Saviour Jesus Christ(not his real date of birth by all accounts) But the day forgiveness was brought into the world,THERE ARE 100,000,000 THATS 100MILLION AMERICANS IN DAMN NEAR THE SAME BOAT AS THIS GUY and we critisize his sister(nobody knows her financial situation or what offers she made,we do know she BOUGHT him a coat ) and fault is found with this generosity, REALLY !really! I must be dreaming someone pinch my ass and wake me up it just seems like the “american dream” turns more into a fkn nightmare EVERYDAY.

      1. Dear Mr. Apple, I honestly have no idea who you are, nor do I particularly care. However, when you decide to get up in my face, you better be prepared, because I will not tolerate the kind of horse crap you constantly spew out on this site. How exactly do you know that his sister “did without”? Oh, and incidentally, your screaming, child like temper tantrum doesn’t exactly reflect agape love. Now please, get down off the cross, someone could really use the wood. Have a nice day!

        1. You dont have to calls me darlin darlin or mr .you are the one who made up the outrageous tale of his eveeeel sister not offering a place(which you dont fkn know you just made it up) to stay instead or the terrible act of supplying him WITH A BRAND NEW FKN JACKET .and believe me when I GET UP IN YOUR FACE YOU WILL DAMN SURE KNOW IT Please explain for all interested parties this mythical “temper tantrum,or one single line of “horseycrap(LIE) that I have uttered you heartless prik or prikette whatever the case may be. Oh and what the hell is “agape love”?????????

          1. I would never call you “darling”, that would be like putting lipstick on a pig. I just love your “FKN” this and “FKN” that, typical for a Bible thumper like yourself. Some “Christian” expert you are, you don’t even know what agape love is. Keep your shitty attitude to yourself. As for knowing when you’ll get up in my face, I am just terrified!

          2. Do you just make up nonsense all fkn day long.I have never ever claimed to be an expert in any field although I do have an excellent bulls%$t detection ability.As is typical of your type you dont answer one single fkn question in regards to your blatant fkn lying of which you excell.The only fkn word I consider as off limits is cussin God which you probably dont have any qualms about every thing else is just fkn letters strung together,as you dont/wont identify your gender I guess eunic will have to suffice for now you heartless fkn thing. Dont you dare presume to know My God as his Son clearly stated “HOW YOU TREAT THE WEAK AND MEEK IS HOW YOU TREAT ME and by your hatefull reply to a fellow human being freezing to death on the streets of america what you are is readily apparent for all to see.I guess as far as any unconditional anything it could only apply to someone with real human feelings of which you are noticably LACKING. Fear not little camper the only threat I represent is the TRUTH and that is only terrifying to dwellers of the dark.

  2. I pray that I will never again be on the streets. I was kicked out at 17 on the streets of Miami. No shelters there at the time either. I remember, VERY DISTINCTLY, Christmas eve of 1982. Although it was Miami, it got down to near freezing. I was able to warm up just a bit by being beside an outdoor jacuzzi in one of the local apartment complexes for most of the night. In the morning, I sat in a porta-john at a construction site to escape the cold wind. Then I went and sat in a bathroom stall at the local bowling alley.

    Never judge someone else. That’s not our job. We don’t know the whole story. His sister may have offered shelter, but this man’s PRIDE may have prevented him from doing so. If there were more people like that, maybe we wouldn’t be where we are now.

    Stay Alert, Stay Alive

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