Several “Longest Night” events on Dec. 21 offer solace and support in commemoration of Homeless Persons Memorial Day
Riverside University Health System (RUHS) and the County of Riverside Housing and Workforce Solutions (HWS) will observe the annual “Longest Night” Homeless Persons Memorial Day across the region on Thursday, Dec. 21.
The event, which coincides with the winter solstice – the longest night of the year – aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the unhoused and honor those who have died. Individuals experiencing homelessness are nine times more likely to commit suicide and face a significantly shorter life span compared to the general population.
“Riverside County is committed to mobilizing all available resources to address the urgent needs of our homeless community. We stand united in our mission to provide hope, care, and support to every individual facing the hardship of homelessness,” said Kevin Jeffries, Chair of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
The “Longest Night” is both a remembrance and a call to action for the county’s most vulnerable residents. In addition to the sharing of stories and memories of lives lost to homelessness, blankets, jackets, personal hygiene products, Narcan, snacks, and information on resources will be distributed at events in Riverside, Hemet, and Indio.
RUHS provides integrated behavioral and physical health services, focusing on the holistic well-being of the unhoused community. This approach underscores RUHS’ commitment to meeting the complex health needs of those experiencing homelessness.
Heidi Marshall, Director for HWS, underscored the department’s commitment to sustainable solutions for homelessness, including housing resources, job training, and employment assistance.
“We aim to create sustainable paths to housing and employment, recognizing that every individual deserves dignity and a chance to thrive,” she said.
In the past fiscal year, the county housed over 5,000 individuals, of which 86% remain housed. Additionally, the department added 614 permanent supportive housing units across the entire county
“Addressing homelessness requires more than temporary solutions; it demands a range of services to address physical and behavioral health and housing,” said Karen Spiegel, Riverside County’s Second District Supervisor and a member of the Continuum of Care Board of Governance, which coordinates the community’s policies, strategies, and activities toward preventing and ending homelessness. “Our mission is to break the cycle of homelessness with comprehensive, compassionate support.”
The community is encouraged to participate in the commemorative events:
- Indio Behavioral Health Clinic, 44-199 Monroe St., Indio, 5 to 6 p.m.
- Hemet Behavioral Health Clinic, 650 N. State St., Hemet, 6 to 8 p.m.
- Fairmount Park, 2601 Fairmount Blvd., Riverside, 5 to 7 p.m., featuring Riverside City Council Member Erin Edwards, County Supervisor Karen Spiegel, Debora Mickelson from Project Becky, and Greg Coffos, Director of Riverside County Veterans’ Services Department.
For more information, contact Kimberlee Samberson at 951-715-5050 or KSamberson@ruhealth.org.
Caption above: Residents gather to light candles in remembrance of homeless residents lost and to bring awareness to homeless services.
- 2023-Homeless-Persons-Memorial-Day-800×568: RivCo