Memorial March remembers Minnesotans who died while homeless


Being homeless can be dangerous. People without permanent homes are susceptible to Minnesota's brutal outdoor conditions and often punishing harshness of the streets.

People who died while homeless were remembered Thursday night at the 30th annual Homeless Memorial March and Service in Minneapolis.

MPR News reported that the crowd of around 200 silently walked two miles to memorialize the 158 people who died while homeless; they carried signs marked with the names and ages of the dead. The list of those remembered had 10 more names than last year's event.

The Pioneer Press said that the list include those who died on the streets as well as former homeless people who "...succumbed to violence, accidents or long-standing dependency or abuse of alcohol or drugs." A story by columnist Ruben Rosario noted that the man who was recently fatally stabbed at a Minneapolis light-rail station is on the list. His suspected killer also was homeless.

Reporter Dana Melius of the St. Peter Herald in southern Minnesota calls the annual march " of the most moving experiences I’ve witnessed in decades of affordable housing and anti-poverty advocacy work." He added that the service "gives respect and dignity" to each homeless person.

WCCO reported that Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges joined the solemn event.

“It’s important that we are out here to memorialize people who may not have been memorialized in any other way,” Mayor Hodges said.

The march, sponsored by the nonprofit Simpson Housing Services, is designed to honor a community that often doesn't receive proper memorials at death. It included a Service of Remembrance followed by a community meal at the Simpson shelter.

A statewide one-night survey conducted by Wilder Research in 2012 found 10,214 homeless people, an increase of 9 percent from the 2009 survey.

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