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MN's Homeless to Be Remembered in Winter's Cold

The annual Memorial March for the Homeless draws hundreds every December. (Simpson Housing Services)
The annual Memorial March for the Homeless draws hundreds every December. (Simpson Housing Services)
December 21, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Hundreds of marchers will take to the streets in Minneapolis Thursday evening to remember people who died from lack of housing. It's the 33rd annual Homeless Memorial March.

Kirsten Rokke with the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless said the first march took place in 1984, when staff at a shelter became concerned about a Vietnam veteran named Eric.

"He was homeless, and so a few weeks had passed and they hadn't heard from him and no one knew where he was. And they found him at the train tracks and he had been beaten to death,” Rokke said.

She said more than 9,000 Minnesotans a night do not have a place to sleep. In 2017, 169 of them died.

"There's not enough beds for every single person that needs shelter that night,” Rokke said. "And on any given night, actually, children make up one-third of the amount that are experiencing homelessness."

The march is to raise awareness of the problem, and to remember those who died. Each victim's name will be read out loud, and marchers will carry a candle for each of them.

The march starts at 5 p.m. at the Hennepin County Government Center and ends at Simpson United Methodist Church, where a service and community meal will follow.

Advocates for the homeless say it's imperative that housing be available for the most vulnerable Minnesotans.

"They suffer in deeper poverty and are in more of a crisis to find affordable housing,” Rokke said. “And we just don't have that."

The march is organized by Simpson Housing Services, which supports hundreds of people who need shelter in Minneapolis and its suburbs.

More information on the Homeless Memorial March is available at SimpsonHousing.org.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN