Fewer homeless people died in 2018 than the previous year but it was the second most since the city started reporting. At least 290 homeless people died in fiscal year 2018, according to a city report that is mandated by City Council legislation. The Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported 290 homeless people died while the Human Resources Administration reported 53 deaths. (The two numbers cannot be added together because they may be double counting some of people. The individuals counted by HRA cannot be compared to the other names to protect their privacy.)
Drug related deaths were once again the leading cause of death for homeless people in New York City. Going a little deeper shows some bad new and some not-as-bad news. The total number of drug related deaths decreased in 2018 to 99 from 103 the previous year. The decrease comes from a drop in deaths due to chronic drug use, to 6 deaths in 2018 from 17 the previous year. But 93 homeless people died from accidental drug overdoses, a new record high.
The number of homeless people dying of heart disease, once the leading cause of death, declined in 2018, down to 42 compared to 53 the previous year. In addition, 36 homeless people died in accidents and four died from exposure to the cold. Also, 11 people committed suicide and seven were victims of homicide. Seven homeless infants died in 2018.
The high number of accidental overdose deaths shows the continued effects of the opioid epidemic on homeless people. And though the number of homeless people that died from heart disease decreased, we know that homeless people have much shorter life expectancies and more work needs to be done to fight that and prevent more of these health-related deaths. And it’s incredibly sad how many homeless people take their own lives or are victims of violence.
Politico’s Dan Goldberg wrote a story on the report (Headline: Homeless deaths see largest drop in 7 years). It’s paywalled but if you are a Politico Pro subscriber (we’re not, more’s the pity) you can read the story here.
You can read the report here.