The Longest Night Memorial in the entire San Fernando Valley gives the community a chance to grieve over uninhabited deaths – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
A memorial to the deaths of people without shelter in the San Fernando Valley will be held at several locations on Saturday, December 18, ending with a candlelight vigil in North Hollywood.
The Longgest Night Memorial event, organized by two local groups campaigning for uninhabited neighbors in the Valley, takes place while temperatures are freezing in Los Angeles.
Nearly 1,500 people died on the streets of Los Angeles during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UCLA researchers who released a report earlier this month entitled “We Don’t Forget.”
According to the report, the deaths are “evidence of the displacement and trauma caused by housing insecurity and displacement” and the prison-like “isolation in shelters and shelter programs,” including those put in place during the pandemic, underscoring the need for decent permanent housing – that is not conditional.
Organizers say the event will be held to allow the community to mourn the many deaths that have occurred in Los Angeles during the pandemic and amid the Los Angeles homelessness crisis.
“My community, my friends? You’re dying, ”said Karen Goldstein, an uninhabited West Valley resident. “For us it is inevitable. It’s everywhere – all the time. Even if you refuse to acknowledge our life and death – we are people and we are important. “
In November, an ofrenda was erected in the St. Matthäus-Luthern-Kirche to commemorate the deceased neighbors. (Courtesy photo of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church North Hollywood)
The event is a collaboration between two Valley-based groups, West Valley Homes Yes, in the Northwest Valley, and NoHo Home Alliance, primarily based out of North Hollywood. Both groups regularly reach out to uninhabited communities in their area and work to connect them with resources and shelter.
Kim Olsen, a board member of West Valley Homes Yes, said the memorial was born “from talking to our unhodged friends about how many people we had lost and from a desire to honor our departed friends.
Hannah Bowman, another board member, said the multiple locations will help make it clear that “deaths in the uninhabited community happen in all of our neighborhoods – not far away.”
At the end of the memorial service, a final candlelight service will take place at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, the home base of the NoHo Home Alliance. Participants can light a votive candle in memory of a person who has not been accommodated.
Pastor Stephanie Jaeger of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church speaks during a service celebrating 90 years as a community-based church in North Hollywood on Sunday, November 14, 2021. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
Pastor Stephanie Jaeger, Pastor of St. Matthew’s and Executive Director of the NHHA, noted that this event was not just a mourning but an urgent call to action.
“It is time to think about how we can come together as a community to end homelessness,” she said.
The two groups also offer volunteers to support people who are not housed. To learn more about the event, contact West Valley Homes Yes by calling 818-305-4080 or [email protected]
The memorial will stop at five locations throughout the day:
–11 am: Nordhoff & Oso, Chatsworth;
–12 noon: Eton and Vanowen, Canoga Park;
-1 p.m .: 14449 Aetna, Van Nuys;
–2pm: North Hollywood Park, Tujunga and Magnolia;
3:00 pm: South Weddington Park (behind the Universal Metro); and
4:00 pm, closing candlelit service, St. Matthew’s, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.