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Maryland's Homeless Remembered on Longest Night

December 21, 2011

BALTIMORE - More than 100 names will be read today at a candlelight service in Baltimore for Homeless Persons' Memorial Day. That's how many Marylanders have died in the past year because of issues related to homelessness.

Because this event happens during winter, says Adam Schneider, community relations coordinator for Health Care for the Homeless, many people assume freezing is a common cause of death. A case study found that assumption to be false, he says.

"The elements, whether the heat or the cold, was actually a relatively small factor. Much more was a chronic health condition."

People without permanent housing die about 30 years sooner than average, Schneider says.

Ending homelessness isn't a mystery, he says, adding that it takes affordable housing, livable incomes and access to health care and supportive services.

"The experience of homelessness is very complicated. The solutions are amazingly simple: just a matter of creating the political will to make it so."

He adds that many who are homeless are children. The National Center on Family Homelessness shows the rate of homelessness among U.S. children has increased nearly 33 percent since 2007.

Memorial services will take place in 150 cities around the nation. The Baltimore memorial is to begin at 5:30 p.m. at Inner Harbor Amphitheatre.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD