Nashville, TN (Main Street Nashville)–Faith leaders, public officials, homeless advocates and service providers will join with the homeless community to remember and honor the people who have died on Nashville’s streets this year.
The 2021 Annual Homeless Memorial will take place 8:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11. There will be speakers, music, poetry, the reading of the names and a time for sharing. It will close with a procession to the courthouse, where flags will be placed in the ground with the names of each person who died this year.
Every year in Nashville, dozens of people experiencing homelessness die on the streets without adequate housing and health care. At the 2020 Annual Homeless Memorial, more than 100 people were remembered. Nearly 190 people are expected to be remembered at the 2021 memorial.
National Health Care for the Homeless Council reports that people experiencing homelessness have an average life expectancy as low as 41 years and are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than their housed counterparts. This high death rate draws attention to the need for more affordable housing, physical and mental health care, and respite and rehab services for this community.
“We are tired of waiting for better options. This is an epidemic,” homeless advocate Howard Allen said in a news release.
Riverfront Park was chosen as the backdrop for the livestream because it is the site of the Tara Cole Memorial Bench. The bench commemorates Tara Cole, who was experiencing homelessness when she was killed in August 2006. While she was sleeping by the Cumberland River, a man rolled her into the river and she drowned. It took officials 10 days to recover her body.
Organizers for the event say they are hoping to create a space to show that the people who died are loved, honored and remembered.