More than 100 advocates for the homeless gathered in Philadelphia Thursday evening to memorialize people who died on the streets this year.
Sister Mary Scullion, founder of the housing nonprofit Project HOME, said Pennsylvania could combat homelessness by ensuring that all residents have access to health care coverage. According to her group, 127 homeless and formerly homeless people died in 2013.
“It’s a scandal in this wealthy country when we continue to have people that live and die on our streets,” she said. “If we want to see the day when no one lives on our street or in our shelters, we need just public policies to ensure access to quality health care and housing.”
A city report found that 55 percent of homeless people who died between 2009 and 2010 did not have health insurance.
Former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. also called on public officials to do more to fight homelessness at the event.
“Everyone born in this city, in this country, should have a right to food on their table and a place to live and to keep warm,” he said.
“Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day” was founded in 1990 by Washington, D.C.-based advocates to bring attention to the nation’s failure to end homelessness. The event has since spread to dozens of U.S. cities.