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Friday, January 21, 2022

Memorial to ‘Longest Night’ in the San Fernando Valley Gives Community an Opportunity to Mourn Homeless Deaths

A memorial to commemorate the deaths of homeless people who lived in the San Fernando Valley will be erected in multiple locations on Saturday, December 18, and will culminate in a candlelit vigil in North Hollywood.

The Longest Night Memorial event, hosted by two local groups supporting and protecting homeless neighbors in the Valley, is being held as temperatures hit freezing in Los Angeles.

Nearly 1,500 people died on the streets of Los Angeles during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to researchers at the University of California Los Angeles, who published a report earlier this month, titled We Don’t Forget.

According to the report, the deaths are “evidence of displacement and injury caused by unsafe housing and displacement” and prison-like “isolation in shelters and emergency shelter programs”, including those created during the pandemic, and underscores the need for humane permanent housing – no conditions.

Organizers say the event is being held to encourage the community to mourn the many deaths that have occurred during the pandemic and during the Los Angeles homelessness crisis.

“My community, my friends? They are dying, ”said Karin Goldstein, a homeless woman from the West Valley. “This is inevitable for us. He is everywhere – always. Even if you refuse to acknowledge our life and our death, we are human beings and we matter. “

In November, an office opened at St. Matthew’s Luthernov Church to commemorate the memory of the dead neighbors who live homeless. (Photo courtesy of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in North Hollywood)

The event is the result of a collaboration between two Valley Homes groups: West Valley Homes Yes, in the Northwest Valley, and NoHo Home Alliance, which operates primarily in North Hollywood. Both teams regularly conduct outreach to homeless communities in their neighborhoods and work to link them to resources and housing.

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Kim Olsen, board member of West Valley Homes Yes, said the commemorative event “grew out of talking with our homeless friends about how many people we lost and a desire to honor the memory of our deceased friends.

Hannah Bowman, another board member, said having multiple locations would help illustrate that “homeless deaths occur in all of our neighborhoods, not far away.”

A final candlelight service will take place at the end of a memorial event at St Matthew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, where the NoHo home alliance is based. Participants can bring a votive candle to commemorate one homeless person.

Memorial to 'Longest Night' in the San Fernando Valley Gives Community an Opportunity to Mourn Homeless Deaths
Reverend Stephanie Jager of St. Matthew Lutheran Church speaks during a service in North Hollywood on Sunday, November 14, 2021, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the community-centered church. (Photo by Drew A. Kelly, author of the article)

The Rev. Stephanie Jager, pastor of St. Matthew’s Church and executive director of the NoHo Home Alliance, noted that the event is not only for mourning the lost, but also for an “urgent call to action.”

“It’s time to think about how we can come together to end homelessness,” she said.

Both groups also offer volunteers to help homeless people. To learn more about the event, contact West Valley Homes Yes at (818) 305-4080 or [email protected]

During the day, the memorial will have stops at five locations:

–11: 00: Nordhoff & Oso, Chatsworth;

–12: 00: Eaton and Vanoven, Canoga Park;

13:00: 14449 Aetna, Van Nuys;

–14.00: North Hollywood Park, Tujung and Magnolia;

–15: 00: Weddington South Park (behind Universal Metro); and

–16: 00: Closing of the candlelight service, St. Matthew’s, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.

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