Tonight was the Annual Interfaith Memorial for our Homeless Dead. It’s always a powerful experience and a stunning reminder of how many people are needlessly suffering and dying on our streets. This year we had a list of over 180 people who died… and there are so many more people who were not on this list! There seems to be more and more people each year who are dying on our streets.
I helped organize the memorial this year and I didn’t anticipate what it would be like to collect the names of people not on the list provided by the morgue. As the names were coming in I realized a number of people I haven’t been seeing around lately have died. There were some people who I knew from outreach who we had attempted to connect with resources, but the resources just weren’t available. Beautiful people we as a society have failed to care for who died.
We live in a city such obscene wealth, and a country where housing is a commodity where there are enough vacant homes that every homeless person could have SIX!! It’s shameful that greed is crippling our nation. Homelessness is not a choice, but greed is.
So it appears this post turned into a bit of a rant… I guess I have a few things on my mind after this experience that didn’t produce fluffy feel good feelings. I’m not upset… I’m quite calm, but this is what’s going through my mind. Death is a part of life and I’m okay with death, but no one deserves to suffer and die on the street. No one.
Tonight should be a harsh reality check of what’s taking place on a daily basis in our community. This reality should make everyone uncomfortable… this man made housing and health crisis is NOT normal. The people forced to live on our streets, poor people, did not create this crisis so it’s about damn time we as a society quit putting the blame where it doesn’t belong.
At the same time the memorial was beautiful… hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to those who we lost this year. It was a reminder that people do care… it was hopeful and full of love. Collectively we can create real change so there isn’t a need for a memorial like this. Something I spend a lot of time and consideration on is the need for faith communities to get more involved on the social justice side of homelessness. Coming together for a memorial is a start… we need to continue to come together, along with advocates on homelessness who are already in the struggle, and collectively fight for real systemic change. For people of faith, this is our moral obligation.