A memorial vigil to remember the 26 homeless people who died in Portland this year will be held Wednesday evening in Monument Square.

The social services agency Preble Street made the announcement Tuesday in a press release that said the event will begin at 4 p.m. in the courtyard of Preble Street, at the corner of Preble and Portland streets. Participants will then walk to Monument Square, where the vigil will be held.

People light candles Monday in Portland at a vigil in Monument Square honoring the 35 members of the homeless community who died in 2014. Most of the people on the street are homeless for a short time, and many are families.

People light candles at a 2014 vigil in Monument Square honoring 35 members of the homeless community who died that year.

Portland’s annual homeless persons memorial vigil has taken place for the past 22 years on the evening of the winter solstice to mourn lives that were cut short and to reaffirm a commitment to ensuring that everyone who needs a home finds one.

“The life expectancy of our friends who endure chronic homelessness is 28 years shorter, on average, than that of people who are housed. The human toll of allowing these vulnerable neighbors to slip through the cracks is devastating, not only to those of us who knew and loved the 26 people we’ve lost this year, but to our community as a whole,” said Mark Swann, Preble Street’s Executive Director.

Dr. Peter Bates, senior vice president of academic affairs at Maine Medical Center, and Kelly Parker, who is homeless, will be the guest speakers at the vigil. Their remarks will be followed by the lighting of candles to honor each homeless person who died.

The public is invited to attend. The event is sponsored by Preble Street, the city of Portland Health and Human Services Department, Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center.

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