Community gathers to remember homeless who have passed this year

By KBJR News 1

December 24, 2013 Updated Dec 25, 2013 at 1:27 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- It's being called a crisis in Duluth.

Officials say a lack of affordable housing and a one percent vacancy rate are partially to blame for a rise in homelessness.

On Christmas eve, an annual tradition continued to raise awareness of the alarming trend.

Representatives from Churches United in Ministry along with dozens of community members gathered on the steps of City Hall Tuesday morning demanding change.

"I know a whole bunch of the people that were up here . One them , I him every day. He was working with me. He was an advocate too and he was homeless andd seeing his name up there it just kind of makes it real," said community advocate Scott Yeazle.

Community Advocate Scott Yeazle has been coming out on Christmas Eve for the past for years, not to celebrate the holidays, but to pay his respects to community members less privileged.

"It's important to me because its a reminder that we have work to do in the community to change whats going on," said Yeazle.

A candle was lit for each life lost , sparking awareness of the uphill battle of being homeless and those still fighting everyday.

"There was 30 this year, and two advocates," said Deb Holman, with CHUM.

but many are not giving up on them

"Hoping to start a commision to end hunger, homelessness and poverty, which a lot of these deaths are related to just that," said Holman.

Holman says on any given day more than one hundred homeless people are on the streets in Duluth, especially in the summer. With the colder weather, shelters are seeing record numbers.

CHUM says it is our job as a community to step up and be aware of the homeless in our area.

"We need to be like calling in and letting agencies that do outreach services know where folks are so we can find them so we can keep them safe so they don't die," said Holman.

All in an effort to light fewer candles at this time next year.

CHUM is working on a family housing project expected to open next fall that will house forty four families in need.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati