County to Hold First Candlelight Vigil in Remembrance of Homeless Lives Lost

Clackamas County residents are invited to the 32nd annual Longest Night memorial, a candlelight vigil honoring the lives of 13 homeless individuals who lost their lives this year.

The vigil will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on the winter solstice, December 21, the longest night of the year, at Liberty Plaza, 815 Main Street in Oregon City.

Street parking is free in downtown Oregon City after 5 p.m. Additional parking is located at the top of the elevator on High Street; a quick elevator ride will take attendees down to Main Street.

Those who attend are invited to bring new warm socks or a winter coat to donate to the homeless community to help them through the winter.

County officials say 348 homeless people have died in the state of Oregon from January through September 2022, and 13 homeless people have died in Clackamas County in that time period.

The Longest Night national memorial vigil has been held for 32 years, but 2022 marks the first time that Clackamas County will host a local event. The vigil is co-hosted by the Homeless Solutions Coalition of Clackamas County and the Downtown Oregon City Association.

“This event is a reminder of the serious human toll of homelessness on our communities,” said Clackamas County Housing Services Manager Vahid Brown. “We want to remember the dignity and value of our friends’ and neighbors’ lives that have been lost, and recommit to the urgency of our work to house everyone.”

The vigil will include the reading of names, a candle ceremony, musical performances by Oregon State Representative Mark Meek and blues musician Rae Gordon, and community words of remembrance and stories.

Speakers will include Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith, Homeless Solutions Coalition of Clackamas County President Dan Fowler, and Clackamas County Housing Services Manager Vahid Brown.

If you or someone you know is homeless or experiences a housing crisis in Clackamas County, resources are available online here, or by calling 503-655-8575 or emailing Si necesitas ayuda en espanol, llama 503-655-8575.

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