Not forgotten: We remember
It's the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, so it's time to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless friends who paid the ultimate price for our nation's failure to end homelessness.
those who died without homes
Each year since 1990, people have gathered in cities across the country to observe National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day.
Here in Orlando, we were able to identify 34 homeless people who died this year in the metro area.
Four were murdered. At least two of them were murdered because they were homeless.
Most died of natural causes. That's part of the tragedy of homelessness, too. The average age of death of homeless persons is about 50, while non-homeless Americans can expect to live to age 78. Homelessness dramatically elevates one's risk of illness, injury and death.
I knew some of them: a veteran I found already dying in a woods camp, a few I took to collections court to resolve legal troubles, a few more we helped get IDs at IDignity. I held the candle for Pastor Brian Nichols of the First Vagabonds Church of God, a friend and colleague, who started his ministry for the homeless when he was on the street himself.
Read the National Coalition for the Homeless report on homeless deaths, "Dying Without Dignity," here. And read the National Health Care for the Homeless Council's "The Hard, Cold Facts About the Deaths of Homeless People," here.