Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
As we approach the winter solstice, the start of winter and the longest night of the year, communities across the United States are observing Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day (HPMD).
It is a solemn day of remembrance for people experiencing homelessness that passed away during the year while experiencing homelessness. And as we remember those who have passed away, we also strengthen our resolve to work for a world where no life is lived or lost to homelessness.
During these memorials, we raise awareness about the trauma and the severity of experiencing homelessness.
Many studies have confirmed the relationship between a lack of housing and increased mortality rates. People experiencing homelessness are 3-4 times more likely to die prematurely as compared to the general population, losing an average of 20 years as compared to their housed counterparts.
The difficulty of getting rest, maintaining medications, eating well, staying clean, and staying warm prolong and exacerbate illnesses, sometimes to the point where they are life threatening.
Conditions among people who are homeless are frequently co-occurring, with a complex mix of severe physical, psychiatric and substance use problems. High stress, unhealthy and dangerous environments, and an inability to control food intake often result in visits to emergency rooms and hospitalization.
Our HPMD program is a concerted effort by Care For the Homeless and Urban Pathways to involve service providers, advocates, people with the lived experience of homelessness, elected officials, and community members in compiling a list of unstably housed individuals who lost their lives in 2019. For many cases, this Memorial will be the only commemoration they get.
We want to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness, a crisis that we have the tools to end with the right policy changes. The memorial focuses attention on collectively recommitting efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Understanding that any solutions to end homelessness must be grounded in greater access to affordable housing and supportive services to help individuals not only meet their basic needs but thrive in their community.
Please join us as we memorialize those have passed away this year without stable housing on Wednesday, December 18th at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, 7 West 55th Street in Manhattan. The Memorial will start with a meal at 4:30 p.m., followed by the program at 5:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.