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As the COVID-19 pandemic gripped Orange County, homeless residents had few places to turn.

Shelters have faced coronavirus outbreaks and a lawsuit for sexual harassment and inhumane conditions. Project Roomkey, a statewide program that placed homeless Californians in hotel rooms, was called overly restrictive by advocates who said the hotels and shelters were being run like prisons.

As a result, more homeless people died in Orange County in 2020 than any other year, according to the coroner’s office.

The 330 deaths are a reminder that the pandemic has repeatedly struck the most vulnerable in the community. In 2019, just over 200 homeless people died in Orange County.

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