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On longest night of the year, New London remembers lives lost due to homelessness

Homeless Death Vigil
Jane Tyska / East Bay Times
Candles with names of deceased homeless people are seen during a candlelight vigil at St. James Episcopal Church in Fremont, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. The vigil was held to recognize people in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties who died over the last year while being homeless.

Connecticut faith leaders, elected officials and residents will gather in New London Wednesday night for an annual memorial to remember those who died due to homelessness.

Wednesday's event coincides with the winter solstice – the longest night of the year.

“The Homeless Memorial is a national event and across the country people take this shortest day or longest night of the year to hold in our memory the people who have experienced homelessness and have passed,” said Cathy Zall, executive director of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center.

She said Connecticut needs to stand up against the lack of affordable housing in communities, which she said is central to the homelessness crisis.

“These are my neighbors. This is my community, and we need to find ways to expand the availability of affordable housing,” Zall said.

In 2022, Connecticut’s total unhoused population rose for the first time in nearly a decade, according to an annual HUD-required point in time count released in October.

Zall said many people who died may not have died unhoused, but that any bout of homelessness affected their lifelong health outcomes. She said it’s important for those suffering from homelessness to feel “seen” by their community.

The names of those who died will be read aloud at the memorial service. The service will begin at 6:15 p.m. at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation on 19 Jay St. in New London.

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