Roughly 100 homeless individuals died on San Francisco's streets during this past year alone, and on Wednesday night, their lives were recognized for a final time.
Dozens of advocates attended a vigil outside City Hall as part of the National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day, an annual event aimed to raise awareness about the growing homelessness problem in America. Similar ceremonies were held in 150 cities throughout the United States.
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"It is really important for us to honor folks who have died without housing so that we can step up our efforts to ensure all people have a safe and dignified place to live," Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of San Francisco's Coalition on Homelessness, which co-sponsored the event, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
San Francisco is often dubbed the "homeless capital of America," as our mild climate and progressive social services provide friendlier streets than other cities. A 2009 special report in the Chronicle estimated as many as 5,000 "chronically indigent" individuals living without shelter here.
National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day has been taking place on Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year and the first day of winter, since 1990. "According to organizers, [Winter Solstice] represents the coldest, darkest time for the homeless population," Salena Bailey, director of programs for San Francisco Network Ministries, the vigil's other co-sponsor, told The Huffington Post.
Wednesday's vigil involved chanting, signing, prayers and a reading of the names of the recently deceased. Take a look at images from the program below: