Today is the winter solstice, the day of the year with the longest amount of darkness. That means it's also Homeless Memorial Day.
Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has held memorial services for individuals who have died from causes related to their lack of housing on this day.
The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless marked the day with a press conference held at the corner of Central Avenue and Third Street downtown, near a highway overpass where many homeless people often camp. Coalition officials are calling for the creation of more emergency shelters that can house entire families together; they said the recession and high unemployment rate have increased the need for such spaces.
“The face of homelessness is changing,” the coalition said in a prepared statement. “In past years, families that hit hard times were often able to stay with a family member while they got back on their feet. Today, families have either exhausted this resource or their family members are too close to the edge to care for them.
“In recent discussions, family shelters reported that they no longer have enough options for many of the families that are lucky enough to enter their shelters,” the coalition added. “Jobs are no longer available, the affordable housing is already inhabited and funding for emergency services simply no longer meets the new demand.”
There are an estimated 1,300 men, women and children who are homeless in the Greater Cincinnati region.
For more information, contact the coalition at 513-421-7803 or through its Web site.