Fewer homeless people have died in Portland this year than last, but advocates say the 32 deaths in 2016 is still far too many for a city with so many resources.

A crowd estimated at 200 people gathered in Monument Square on Wednesday evening to light candles and read the names of homeless residents who died this year.

The event, held each year on the evening of the winter solstice, started in the courtyard of the Preble Street social service agency before the procession marched up to nearby Monument Square.

“This is such an important night to show our support for our brothers and sisters who are struggling with homelessness,” Caroline Fernandes, residential services director for Preble Street, told the crowd.

For the past 22 years, advocates and the people they serve have gathered for the Homeless Persons’ annual Memorial Vigil. It gives Portlanders a chance to mourn lives cut short and to confirm their commitment to finding a home for everyone who needs one.

Kaitlyn Wiggins of Portland listens Wednesday as people share stories of homeless friends and family members who died in the past year. More than half of the homeless who died in Portland were in their 30s and 40s.

Kaitlyn Wiggins of Portland listens Wednesday as people share stories of homeless friends and family members who died in the past year. More than half of the homeless who died in Portland were in their 30s and 40s. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Though fewer homeless people died than in 2015, when 44 deaths were reported, 32 deaths is unacceptable, said Donna Yellen, chief program officer for Preble Street.

Last year “was a horrific year,” she said.

More than half of those who died this year were in their 30s and 40s, Yellen said.

The life expectancy for a person who is chronically homeless is 28 years shorter, on average, than for a person who has housing, according to Mark Swann, Preble Street’s executive director.

“The human toll of allowing these vulnerable neighbors to slip through the cracks is devastating,” Swann said in a prepared statement.

Kelly Parker, who is homeless, told the crowd in Monument Square that her husband, Bruce, died in August after a battle with cancer. The couple, who have two daughters and a son, were homeless when her husband died.

Parker said her husband was reluctant to seek treatment because of his living situation, but she convinced him to get medical help.

“He didn’t want to be judged,” Parker said. She was at his bedside when he died.

Peter Bates, Maine Medical Center’s chief academic officer, said Parker’s husband should never have hesitated to seek care.

Bates said the hospital, working in collaboration with Preble Street and other social service agencies, must do a better job of providing health care to homeless people.

“I am pledging to you tonight that Maine Medical Center and Preble Street are going to make a difference,” Bates said. “But there is still a lot of work to do.”