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Remembering Homeless Minnesotans Who Died This Year

December 15, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Some were known to shelter workers or local charities, but others were found alone, perhaps known to no one. The homeless who have died in Minnesota over the past year will be remembered during a march and service this evening in downtown Minneapolis.

Brian Rusche, executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, says it serves as a reminder that we're all human and subject to struggles.

"It's important to just remind ourselves that we all have an obligation to our brothers and sisters to make sure that everybody has the essentials of life. Also, that there are people who are very vulnerable out there, who don't have a roof over their heads, and each year, because we don't do enough, lives are lost."

Rusche says he has attended the event on and off over the years, and the numbers just kept growing.

"When this memorial service was started, the numbers that were remembered as having died in the previous year were in the single digits or maybe 20 people, something like that, I remember. In the last couple years, it has been over 100. There's something seriously wrong, and it demands our attention."

Rusche says the programs for the homeless are doing a great job, but with the growing number needing help and recent cuts in funding, there needs to be more support from the community and the state.

"One of the things we can do, all together, is a better job of reaching out to those who truly are alone and vulnerable. Also, support the public efforts that are necessary to make sure our shelters aren't turning people away on a lottery basis. We shouldn't treat human beings differently depending on whether they get a heads or a tails."

Tonight's event is the 27th annual Minnesota Homeless Memorial March and Service organized by Simpson Housing Services. This year more than 130 lives lost will be honored.

More information is available at www.simpsonhousing.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN