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.


Local Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Events

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.

2017 Spotlight

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless and their ArtStreet program work each year to create plaques for each person experiencing homelessness that passed during the year. The wall currently has over 600 names. Read more about their project here.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Yazzie


2016 Remembrances

From David Peery in Miami: “On December 16, 2016, near longest night of the year, the Miami community held a candle light service in remembrance of those persons who lost their lives while residing on the streets and in shelters of our city.  2016 was an especially deadly year. We read the names of 142 persons who passed away, a sixty percent increase from the previous year and more than double the number who died in 2014. We know there is a link between healthcare, chronic diseases, trauma, and access to housing, and that many of our deaths are undoubtedly due to the disproportionate effects on persons experiencing homelessness.  These are conditions that can be treated with access to primary care services and education to help empower persons to take control of their health.  As we enter the New Year and welcome the new Presidential Administration, we urge policy makers to take measures to stem this crisis on our streets, helping to increase access to health care rather than decreasing it.  We must also address the primary cause of homelessness — the lack of affordable housing — which is a severe problem here in Miami.  Unless we address these health and housing issues, 2017 will only surpass 2016 as the deadliest year for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

From Politico – Homeless Deaths in New York City Increase in FY 2016

From NPR- Vigil Honor’s Homeless Who Died as they Lived: On the Streets

From  National League of Cities- Cities Remember Homeless Deaths, Commit to Creating Solutions

From Baltimore Brew- Elderly and homeless, stabbing victim had a name and a story

From Gothamist- Remembering The Homeless Who Died in 2016