St. Louis Public Radio News
8:27 am
Mon December 22, 2008

On longest night of year, a vigil for the homeless

St. Louis – Sunday was national homeless persons memorial day. Every year on the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, people who work with the homeless hold vigils to remember those who died in the last year.

In St. Louis, advocates say at least 25 people without permanent housing died violently or because of health problems.

Judith Ewbank of Community Alternatives, a group that helps mentally ill homeless people, said this year’s vigil was especially poignant those who work at her agency.

"One of our clients at Community Alternatives had passed earlier this year, and his killer was never found," Ewbank said. "He was shot in the streets. It gives us all a bit of closure because we know somebody recognized the people most everyone forgot."

Ewbank said the number of deaths among the homeless in St. Louis is rising because of the poor economy.