On Dec. 21, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, the public is invited to honor the memory of those who died in 2022 while homeless.
The candlelight vigil and name-reading ceremony will be held Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 7:15 p.m. at the South Wilmington Street Center, 1420 S. Wilmington Street, Raleigh.
Holding the event on the winter solstice is meant to highlight the rough winter conditions vulnerable residents experience.
“It’s important to take the time to put names to the homeless and realize these are people with real stories that we can learn from," said Shinica Thomas, chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “With this memorial service, we’re coming together to reflect, but also to draw attention to the need for greater access to housing and services within our communities.”
Compared to the general population, those who experience homelessness are more likely to suffer from chronic disease, mental illness, substance abuse and violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The annual memorial event has been hosted at the South Wilmington Street Center since 2004 and coincides with National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, which is observed on the same day. For the last two years, the event was held virtually due to COVID-19 safety precautions.
Wake County residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are encouraged to reach out to the House Wake! Access Hub. This hub is the centralized intake and referral portal for Wake County residents and can connect those in need to agencies providing services such as emergency shelter, homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.