Letter to the editor: Numbers in Benchlands overdose story don’t line up

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To the editor:

Monday’s reporting links a September spike in overdoses to the clearing of the Benchlands homeless campground in downtown Santa Cruz. But the Benchlands was not cleared out in September. Workers began clearing the first of nine sections of the camp on Sept. 14, and by the end of the month had cleared only four sections. Workers noted at the time that many of the campers in the cleared sections did not leave the Benchlands, they just moved deeper into the camp.

If dispersing less than half of Benchlands campers caused a countywide spike of overdoses in September, how to explain that the overdose numbers dropped dramatically in October and November, when the camp was actually, finally cleared? According to the data cited in your story, one could more easily argue that the closure caused a countywide drop in overdoses. The numbers do not seem to support the argument that clearing out the camp was worse for the residents than letting them live — and die — there.

Maria Gaura
Santa Cruz