A NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE
On December 18, 2019, we held our annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day (HPMD) observance.
On December 18, 2019, Care For the Homeless in partnership with Urban Pathways held our annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day (HPMD) observance. We gathered 160 community members to commemorate the lives of 156 people who passed away in 2019 while unstably housed.
The program kicked off with CFH Executive Director, George Nashak, who said, “We gather each year at this memorial event for two key reasons. First, to bear witness to the lives of people who died while homeless in the past year. We recognize these individuals and acknowledge their lives by reciting their names…and bear(ing) witness to a life that was lost.
Secondly, we participate in this memorial to hold ourselves accountable. It is our belief that none of the people we recognize tonight died because of a personal failure. We believe they died because the system designed to help them failed. Our hope is that each of us will return to our work tomorrow morning and try harder; that we all will start 2020 by re-doubling our efforts to ensure that the list of names we read next year will be shorter than the one we read this evening.”
We were joined by several elected officials, including NY State Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Andrew Hevesi, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council Member Ben Kallos. Each spoke to the tragedy of homelessness and the need to create policies that would prevent and end homelessness for those most in need.
We were also joined by Mr. Ben Vereen, who delivered a special eulogy for the four men that lost their lives due to a brutal attack in Chinatown on October 5th. Mr. Vereen said, “One of the purposes of this Memorial is to acknowledge and remember our neighbors and to honor the lives of people like Mr. Manson, Mr. Villegas, Mr. Comano and Mr. Kwok and the others individuals who will be named tonight. We remember them, and many vulnerable people like them, who are victimized by homelessness.”
Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day has been observed on or about the winter solstice – fittingly the longest, darkest night of the year – for almost 30 years in cities across North America, to recognize these lives of our neighbors unnecessarily spoiled by poverty and homelessness.
In this observance we commit to the ideals below:
- Stable housing for the 60,000+ men, women and children who are experiencing homelessness;
- The human right to proper health care for all;
- The provision of basic food security for every family;
- And an end to discrimination, racism and stigmatization that casts a grim shadow over our society and effects our most vulnerable brother and sisters.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for this solemn occasion where we remembered our neighbors and recommitted to the fight to end homelessness. If you would like to see coverage of the memorial you can click the following links.