Annual memorial vigil mourns deaths among homeless

Dozens turned out last Friday to honor the 43 members of the homeless community who lost their lives in 2019.

For the last 25 years, people have gathered in Portland for the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil, an event to mourn and pay tribute to the lives lost and to reaffirm the need to help find homes for those without. The event Dec. 20, coinciding with the winter solstice, started at the Preble Street Resource Center and ended at Monument Square for speeches, songs and the reading of the names of the 43 homeless people who died this year.

“What we see and what we know nationwide is when someone experiences chronic homelessness, which means they are living in a shelter or outside for years, that takes years off of someone’s life,” said Caitlin Corrigan, Health Services Director for Preble Street.

The average age at death in Cumberland County for 2019 is 80.1 years old, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The average age at death for the greater Portland homeless population over the last year was 55, including one as young as 35.

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