On December 16th, Urban Pathways with Care For the Homeless hosted Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, an annual remembrance of those we’ve lost over the past year who were experiencing or had previously experienced housing instability.

27 organizations contributed 384 names of New Yorkers to be remembered, the most people ever honored at this annual remembrance, although we know the number of deaths was likely much greater. Each name was read aloud and eulogies were shared for some of those who passed, including two members of the Urban Pathways community. 133 New Yorkers, including members of Urban Pathways’ staff, Board of Directors, and Consumer Advocacy Program, joined us in commemorating those lost in 2021. Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day observances also took place in cities across the country around the winter solstice, the longest night of the year.

Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Social Services, provided a reflection on the state of homelessness today in New York and the need to take further steps to address the challenges our state and our city face, while also celebrating the accomplishments of the past year in the fight against homelessness. She poignantly shared,

“For many the concept of homelessness is a statistic, is a number, is a word. But we know they are people like you and me. They didn’t ask to be put in that situation, but there they are. And it’s on us to help them. They are not a burden; they are our neighbors, members of our communities, and we need to do a much better job in supporting them.”

As Adam Heft of the Urban Pathways Board of Directors noted, losing people to homelessness is an avoidable tragedy. He said,

“We can improve our services so that everyone, no matter where you live, can access quality, affordable, and culturally competent mental and medical healthcare. We have the tools to make this happen. We know what works: safe havens for our neighbors to transition from street homelessness, supportive housing for those who need extra support to live independently, and affordable housing where those in need pay 30% of their income. We need more apartments available for extremely low-income households, and the ability for people to move on. Now we need to expand these tools so that they are available to all who need them.”

It is incumbent on all of us to advocate so that every New Yorker has the housing they need to lead their fullest lives.

Scott McDonald provided the program’s closing remarks, stating

“Let our voices echo in support through advocacy towards our community leaders, elected officials, and neighbors so that we may, once and for all, resolve that homelessness ends now.”

By Urban Pathways on December 24, 2021