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 Advocacy Agenda 2021.
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.
Honoring those we have lost
Each year, we lose our friends and colleagues to homelessness. In 2019, the National HCH Council interviewed clinicians, administrators, and consumers of homeless health care to create the first national collection of oral histories of people who have died while experiencing homelessness. These stories illuminate the perspectives and personalities of people who have died without housing. Our hope is to illustrate not only their lives but the conditions that led to their deaths to reduce stigma, spotlight barriers to care, and bring attention to the preventable tragedy of homeless deaths.
Visit our collection of stories of those without homes who passed away due to the injustice of homelessness.
Resources for Planning Events
- HPMD Public Statement and Advocacy Agenda (2021)
- National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Organizing Manual (2021)
- HPMD Social Media Toolkit
- Lessons on Hosting a Virtual Memorial
- Updated 2020 HPMD Policy and Advocacy Agenda
- Homeless Mortality Review Toolkit
Resources on Deaths of People Experiencing Homelessness
- Mortality Among Unsheltered Homeless Adults in Boston 2000-2009
- Presentation from Sacramento and Philadelphia on Homeless Death Collections
- Homelessness and Health: What’s the Connection? | National HCH Council | June 2011
- Handout: The Hard, Cold Facts About the Deaths of Homeless People
- Vulnerable to Hate: A Survey of Hate Crimes and Violence Committed Against Homeless People in 2013 | National Coalition for the Homeless | June 2014
- Premature Mortality in Homeless Populations | 2005 Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Report
- Suicide and Homelessness: Data Trends in Suicide and Mental Health Among Homeless Populations
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