Hundreds gather in Portland for homeless vigil

PORTLAND (WGME) — Homeless advocates are saying more homeless people have died this year in Portland than any other year in recent history.

Hundreds of people gathered in Monument Square Dec. 21 to mark those lives lost. This vigil is held every year on this night because it’s the longest night of the year.

This year alone, 43 homeless people in Portland have died. Officials say untreated medical conditions, suicide and overdoses are just some of the causes of death.

Hundreds gathered at the Preble Street Resource Center and marched united to Monument Square, to show their support for the fight to end homelessness.

Mark Swann, executive director for the center, says the goal is to raise awareness.

“When a shelter closes people die,” Swann said. “Take note of that.”

Preble Street officials say they’re optimistic 2016 will be better but certain policies and funding must be passed in order to get people the help they need.