Monday, December 21, 2009

Not forgotten: We remember
those who died without homes

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.

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.


At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jackie. You don't know me but I have heard a lot of good things about you. My name is Kass, and Brian and I were very close and we kept a myspace of all of Brian's accomplishments. I am keeping this page in memory of him. Please if you have time give it a look.
Thank you for remembering Pastor Brian. Kass

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Jacqueline Dowd said...

Hello Kass. I've seen the myspace page. In fact, that's what made think that the talk I heard on the street of Pastor Brian's passing was true.

Do you know what happened?

I argued the federal case in front of a federal appeals court last week. We are carrying on at least part of Brian's mission.

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jackie, thanks for posting.

You're like a beacon. Keep shining.

At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jackie, Just checking to make sure I sent Brians obit to the right email address, thanks for all you do for Brian's cause. Kass :) Have a Happy New Year!

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Jacqueline Dowd said...

Kass, I did get your e-mail. Thanks.

At 2:49 AM, Blogger Monte said...

Is this a Brian Nichols that I knew in Ashland, Oregon? We use to minister on the Streets together...monte / PS. He just passed away here a couple months ago. I wasn't here then, but just heard about it a couple months ago!

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