National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

written by Lisa Stand
December 21, 2012

The date December 21 has meanings both ancient and new. Communities in every era have paused in awareness of waning daylight and the promise of the sun’s return; in our era, some will pause to look for assurance that the world keeps turning. It is appropriate that National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is December 21.

For people living on the street, the darkest day of the calendar is especially dark; for a person to die on the street is an ending that should be unthinkable. Homeless advocates, today, will pause to honor the neighbors and fellow citizens who passed away in 2012 without a home.

On the Alliance blog today, we will pause from studying homeless populations, from reporting on aggregate signs of progress in ending homelessness. With communities across the country, we pause in remembrance of each person who died on the street without a home. Each person had a name, a story, hopes and dreams, and human needs that went unmet. Each person experienced isolation but nonetheless was born of a family somewhere, and likely still belonged in some way to a family – of origin or of affiliation. Each person is missed, each should remind us of social and political failures we are left behind to overcome.

And then, when we turn back to our larger goals of ending homelessness entirely, we carry this remembrance. We renew the commitment to reducing vulnerability of homelessness, as well as vulnerability to homelessness. As a member of a community of advocates, we speak for proven solutions – Housing First above all, then access to supports, family intervention for youth, treatments, and paths to independence.

Living and dying on the street need not be part of the human experience.

Image "Homeless and Cold" courtesy of Ed Yourdon's photostream.