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Giving Minnesota's Homeless Some Dignity in Death

PHOTO: Each of the homeless who died in Minnesota this year will be remembered tonight at a march and service in Minneapolis. CREDIT: Aja M. Beers.
PHOTO: Each of the homeless who died in Minnesota this year will be remembered tonight at a march and service in Minneapolis. CREDIT: Aja M. Beers.
December 20, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - They were without a home and many were alone, but those in that situation who passed this year in the state will be remembered. The 28th Annual Minnesota Homeless Memorial March and Service will be held tonight in Minneapolis.

Steve Horsfield, executive director of Simpson Housing Services, says the event has two goals.

"First of all, is for people who died homeless over the course of the last year in Minnesota, we are honoring their memory and providing some dignity to that memory, especially when you consider that their last days may have been spent in circumstances with less dignity than we would like to see for people in Minnesota."

Horsfield says their second goal is to raise awareness of the issue. The most recent estimates say that on any given night in Minnesota, some 14,000 people are homeless.

Some have a preconceived notion about homeless people, Horsfield says, but because of the recession, those from all walks of life have found themselves struggling to find shelter.

"People who are veterans, people who are in some instances well-educated, people who come from families that have all sorts of interesting histories. They are somebody's son, somebody's brother, somebody's father, somebody's grandfather, somebody's mother. They are very much part of our community."

One such story is that of John, who lost his job when his long-time employer in the Twin Cities went out of business. John ended up living on the streets, but has been able to find an affordable place to stay now, thanks to help from Simpson.

However, John notes there is much more need than help available, and in Minnesota in winter, it's a serious situation.

"One guy froze to death. His nickname was Moses. And a buddy of mine from the Glenwood, he got sent to the hospital because his core body temperature was so low, he started going into shock. So, it's pretty tough out there."

Around 80 people who died in 2012 are expected to be remembered at tonight's homeless memorial.

More information is available at www.simpsonhousing.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN