National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
Since 1990, the first day of winter (and the longest night of the year) has been designated National Homeless Persons’ Memorial day, a day to remember friends, family members, and neighbors who passed away while homeless in the past year.

The Memorial Day is co-sponsored by National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), National Consumer Advisory Board (NCAB), and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) and brings attention “to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless friends who have paid the ultimate price for our nation's failure to end homelessness,” say the organizers.

According to the Philadelphia based organization, Project Home, on a single night in January 2017, there were 553,742 people experiencing homelessness in the United States; 65% were sheltered individuals and 35% were unsheltered.

In 2017, the Guardian reporting on a study released by the Ben Carson led Department of Housing and Urban Development, said that the homeless population increased again for the first time since the Great Recession. New York experienced a 4.1 % increase. In the west, the homeless population also surged in Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Sacramento and Oakland.

“Most of the increase across the country is driven by people living in doorways, tents and RVs as opposed to in shelters,” reports the Guardian. “People of color are dramatically overrepresented: African Americans make up over one-third of the number.”

California accounted for more than half of the nation’s unsheltered chronically homeless individuals at 53%, states Project Home on their website. New York City has the largest homeless population in the U.S., climbing near 78,000.

According to, in New York, the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said that homeless deaths in New York City increased in FY 2016 due to more deaths from drug overdoses and heart disease.

Event founders say homeless individuals are 3-4 times more likely to die than the general population. On average, people with housing in the U.S. can expect to live to age 78. However those who are long term homeless can expect to live to about the age of 50.

To recommit to the task of ending homelessness, NCH, NCAB, and NHCHC encourages local and statewide organizations to hold memorials of their own. One year, more than 150 cities across the nation sponsored events to honor those who had died while homeless. Anyone can coordinate an event including advocates, service providers, organizations, homeless and formerly homeless individuals/families, religious leaders, city representatives, students, and concerned citizens.

The Homeless Memorial Day in Philadelphia, which is being organized by the Project Home community, gained more than 1100 interested people on Facebook.

For more information about National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day visit

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