Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
The National Consumer Advisory Board, the National Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council encourage our constituents to organize or take part in Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day events on or around December 21st, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year. Learn why we remember this day each year through our HPMD Public Statement and Advocacy Agenda.
At these events each year, we remember those who have died and we strengthen our resolve to work for a world where no life is lived or lost in homelessness. We state clearly, together with others in scores of communities across our nation, that no person should die for lack of housing.
Each Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day event is unique to its community, but the events often include readings of names, candles, prayers, personal remembrances, marches, and moments of silence. They are often held outdoors, sometimes – fittingly – in the bitter cold. These events honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our collective failure to adequately address homelessness, and often include calls to address the systemic causes of tragically avoidable deaths.
A succinct Organizing Manual for HPMD is now available. In it you will find guidelines for planning these events, sample documents, and suggestions for addressing policy issues related to homeless deaths. Please use it to borrow ideas from others and to help create a moving and powerful local event.
For help in organizing your local Homeless Person’s Memorial Day or to let us know about your event, please contact Katherine Cavanaugh, the Council’s Consumer Advocate, or the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Video: The Death of Walter Smith
Walter Smith was one of the 45 people who died homeless in 2014 in Cincinnati, OH. This is an increase from 16 who died in 2005. The number of homeless deaths is on the increase and the reason is clear: there is a lack of affordable housing, a lack of access to substance and alcohol abuse treatment facilities, and a lack of affordable and accessible mental health care. Like many persons who die while homeless, Walter’s death was preventable. Learn more about the life of Walter Smith here.
- HPMD Public Statement and Advocacy Agenda
- National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Organizing Manual
- Premature Mortality in Homeless Populations | 2005 Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Report
- Homelessness and Health: What’s the Connection? | National HCH Council | June 2011
- Handout: The Hard, Cold Facts About the Deaths of Homeless People
- Protecting the Unprotected: A Survey of Violence Experienced While Homeless | National HCH Council, National Consumer Advisory Board (poster presentation)
- Vulnerable to Hate: A Survey of Hate Crimes and Violence Committed Against Homeless People in 2013 | National Coalition for the Homeless | June 2014