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Vigil on Thursday to memorialize homeless people

EVERETT — At least 18 people died on the streets in Snohomish County this year.
The county will commemorate the deceased Thursday, Dec. 21 — the longest night of the year — with a vigil at 5 p.m. at the county campus as part of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.
Dress warmly and “bring a tissue,” said event co-organizer Cammy Hart-Anderson, a division manager in the county’s human services department.
The cool breeze from Port Gardner Bay chills the air, and the cold gives people a small reminder of the harsh weather vulnerable populations endure.
The deceased homeless include three military veterans. “Taps” will be played, and some people will have their stories memorialized from social workers who worked with them. The county does not release the deceased’s names or identities in advance.
Last year’s memorial honored 15 people, six of whom were veterans.
The names are collected from social service contacts and other sources, Hart-Anderson said.
In Seattle in November, 127 people aged from infant to 71 who died homeless were honored in a mass at St. James Cathedral. The names were collected from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, said Patrick Barredo, who directs the church’s outreach office.
The Point in Time Count, a one-day snapshot on homelessness each January, suggests there are more home-
less people in Snohomish County now than in recent history. The count found 515 people from 447 households who were unsheltered at the time of the count, up from 481 people in 2016, and up from 312 people unsheltered in 2015. The numbers can vary because they are based on volunteer interviews, among other factors.
“I keep hoping each year that this year we wouldn’t have to have (a memorial) as we would have nobody who died on our streets; my dream hasn’t come true yet,” Hart-Anderson said.
The short ceremony will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21

 

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