MIAMI – While they died in relative obscurity, the lives of 102 homeless individuals from Miami-Dade were honored and remembered at the annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Vigil.

“It’s the final honoring of the men and women who died in 2013 without a roof over their head or a place to call home,” said Lisa Mozloom, a spokeswoman.
The program, jointly coordinated by the Homeless/Formerly Homeless Forum, The Miami Coalition for the Homeless and the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, was part of a nationwide event taking place in 157 U.S. cities.

“Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is a somber day for those of us who work with the homeless,” said Mr. Ronald L. Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “However, we have to see it as an opportunity to remember the deceased and also recommit ourselves to ending homelessness.  We must continue our work so when any person passes away, they are able to do so from the comfort of a home with people who care.”

The deceased, persons who were living in the streets or in emergency or transitional housing programs, were remembered with a candlelight vigil, special music, the laying of a wreath, the reading of names of the deceased, and the playing of Taps.

The names of those who passed away are on display in the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Center in downtown Miami, 111 N.W. First St. The youngest to die this past year while homeless was an infant less than two weeks old; the oldest was 77 years old.

To gather the names for the ceremony, emails are sent to all the homeless shelters and community organizations requesting the names people who have died according to
Mozloom. Families are notified at the time of death.

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day takes place on or near the first day of winter to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness. According a report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Florida is one of five states that account for more than half of the homeless population in the United States. The report also found Florida had the largest decrease in homeless since 2007 but did not provide an explanation for the change.

Founded in 1993, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is a county agency headed by a board of 27 volunteers, which serves in an advisory capacity to the Miami-Dade County Commission charged with the responsibility of implementing the Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan.

These volunteers represent the business, religious, educational, provider and political communities, along with formerly homeless individuals.

*Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.