Central Oregon Daily▶️ Drake Park vigil remembers those who died while homeless this year

▶️ Drake Park vigil remembers those who died while homeless this year

▶️ Drake Park vigil remembers those who died while homeless this year

▶️ Drake Park vigil remembers those who died while homeless this year

About 60 people came together on Thursday in Drake Park to remember those who died this year while experiencing homelessness. 

“This is a tradition of 33 years nationally, recognizing those individuals who have lost their lives while living unsheltered throughout the year,” Colleen Thomas with Deschutes County Behavioral Health said.

The Longest Night Vigil is held every year on the winter solstice. 

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This year has been exceptionally difficult.   

“For the tri-county region, including the confederated tribes, there are 27 individuals that we are aware of that have lost their lives while living unhoused,” Thomas said.

Thomas says that is the highest figure the county has recorded for the region in a year.

“That could be due to a couple different factors. One, we have more awareness of wanting to collect these names and share them and remember them. I think the number of 27 isn’t inclusive. There might be some others we may not know of,” Thomas said.

Counting is a collaborative effort between service providers and family members. It’s a somber part of the job as a service provider, but it also serves as a reminder of the relationships built with our community’s most vulnerable. 

“They are our community members and we want them to be remembered with our dignity and respect. The collections of those names comes from the trusted relationships that we have as service providers in the community,” Thomas said.

Thomas says loss of life can be due to a combination of factors. There is no one specific reason that they’ve tracked that has led to death. 

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