Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018
 

Homeless memorial set to honor lives lost in SF

Photo: San Francisco Interfaith Council

Photo: San Francisco Interfaith Council

Homeless advocates in San Francisco are set to honor the lives of about 150 homeless people who died in the city this year.

The San Francisco Interfaith Council and the San Francisco Night Ministry will hold their annual memorial at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 21 on the Polk Street side of Civic Center Plaza. People are asked to bring candles.

“Homelessness is arguably the most pressing and visible crisis facing San Francisco,” Michael Pappas, the council’s executive director, said in an email to the Bay Area Reporter. “It is a failure of society that shows no discrimination to religion, gender, race or sexual orientation. In addition to hosting our city’s interfaith winter shelter, this memorial is a sacred and powerful occasion to pause¬†outside in the cold and dampness of the winter solstice, hear the names and pray for [the] precious souls who died on our streets without family or loved ones.”

The interfaith winter shelter serves up to 100 homeless men every night at numerous local churches.

According to city survey estimates, 29 percent of homeless people in San Francisco identify as LGBTQ.

“If the homeless count is accurate and 1/3 of our city’s homeless self identify as LGBT, those in our LGBT community have an even greater and more compelling obligation to gather, remember and support one another in the face of the loss of our own,” said Pappas, a gay man who chairs the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s LGBT Advisory Committee.

As the community prepares to honor homeless people who have died, one organization says that the wait list for homeless people in the city seeking shelter has reached more than 1,000.

“There are 1,009 waiting for a 90 day single adult shelter bed,” Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, announced Wednesday, December 15. “If someone misses curfew, or if one of the shelter beds is set aside for a special population such as Care not Cash, the bed is offered for one night only, usually released late at night. Those on the wait list may try their luck for a one-night bed, or find a friend or family member to let them stay, or find a place on the cold streets or wet parks. Those on the street or in parks are rousted frequently and often given tickets for being destitute.”

In response to emailed questions, Friedenbach said, “Homelessness is an independent risk factor for a number of illnesses, and homeless people themselves are susceptible to increased health problems due to high stress, sleep depravation, unsanitary surroundings, lack of access to hygiene facilities, and a myriad of other symptoms inherent with living without stable housing. Subsequently, they are 3 to 4 times more likely to die prematurely then their housed counterparts.”

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 15, 2016 @ 6:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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