For most people, the Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year. However, for those who do not have adequate shelter from the elements or stable housing options, the longest, darkest night of the year can be especially brutal.

On December 21, local communities observed Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day (HPMD). In New York City, Care for the Homeless, in partnership with LIU Brooklyn’s MPA program and Urban Pathways, sponsored an HPMD observance for the sixth consecutive year at LIU Brooklyn.

The Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day remembered those who passed away in New York City this year without stable housing. Since they began in 1990, HPMD commemorations have now grown across North America, with annual observances held in approximately 180 cities. These commemorations are sometimes the only acknowledgments for those who have passed.

“In this time of changing public policy it’s important that policy leaders like the LIU MPA Program, Care for the Homeless, and Urban Pathways bring attention to an oft-forgotten issue,” said Edgar Troudt, Ph.D., assistant dean for research and strategic partnerships at LIU Brooklyn’s School of Business, Public Administration and Information Sciences. “But this is only the first step.  We each need to examine the 175 policy suggestions that LIU and CFH put forward this past summer and then start conversations within our communities on the next steps.”

The free event was open to the public and included a meal and memorial program. The program included the reading of the names of people who died in New York City without housing this year. The names were then projected on a screen as they were read, a bell tolled, and candles were lit to honor each individual. The program also included a “Wall of Remembrance,” where participants could honor those they have lost in 2017.

“Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance and mourning for people our community has lost,” Care for the Homeless Executive Director George Nashak said. “It’s also a time to reflect on the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way. That we have it within our power to fight, prevent and over time to end homelessness as we know it, and along with it the terrible consequences of chronic homelessness including avoidable premature deaths and suffering.”

The event was featured on WPIX 11. Click here to watch.

Care for the Homeless and LIU Brooklyn support advocacy for funding for the Community Health Center Fund, which expired with the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30. The CHCF represents 70 percent of all federal funding for community health centers who serve nearly 27 million vulnerable and poor patients, and never turn anyone away, including the 8,000 homeless patients Care for the Homeless serve annually.