MultCo vigil memorializes homeless deaths of 2020


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – On the longest night of the year, Multnomah County commemorated the lives lost due to homelessness with a vigil on Tuesday.

Multnomah County reports 126 homeless people died in 2020. The average age was 46 years old. 

The vigil is a reminder that these statistics are connected to people.

“I know I’m not alone – there are others here tonight that have also lost a loved one,” Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan said. 

Ryan, spoke before the community saying he’ll continue to fight for the homeless in this city as he himself lost his brother, Tim, to homelessness.

People gathered at the Bybee Lakes Hope Center Tuesday night to memorialize and shine a light for a loved one.

“This is an opportunity to remember people that have lived through that and lost their lives on the streets, but also begin conversation about what we can do different in our communities so we can crest this number and work our way in the other direction,” Alan Evans, founder of Helping Hands, explained.

Evans, lived on the streets for 27 years. Now, he’s devoted his life’s work to helping people break the cycle of homelessness.

“And to watch them bloom into beautiful productive people is something I get to witness every day. I’m pretty blessed for that,” Evans said.

Gloria Perez is one of those success stories. 

“I’m getting my life back on track so Bybee is a really good resource for anyone who’s out on the streets — that’s why I’m so proud of this vigil tonight — because I lost my brother to homelessness and to move past that in my own life and succeed forward is an amazing feeling” Perez said.

While this is the longest night of the year, homeless advocates encourage residents to be the light in this town and continue to share it with others. 

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