Riverside County, California – The Riverside University Health System (RUHS) and the County of Riverside Housing and Workforce Solutions (HWS) will commemorate the annual “Longest Night” Homeless Persons Memorial Day throughout the region on Thursday, Dec. 21.
This observance, aligning with the winter solstice – the year’s longest night – aims to bring attention to the struggles of the homeless population and to honor those who have passed away. People experiencing homelessness have a ninefold higher risk of suicide and generally shorter lifespans than the broader population.
The chair of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Kevin Jeffries, said that the county would use all of its resources to help the homeless right away. The county’s main goal is to help, care for, offer hope to people who are homeless.
The “Longest Night” is both a memorial and a call to action to help the most vulnerable people in the county. At the event, people will share their stories and remember those who have died due to homelessness. At gatherings in Riverside, Hemet, and Indio, people will be able to get things they need, like blankets, jackets, personal hygiene products, Narcan, snacks, and resource information.
As a way to meet the specific needs of the homeless community, RUHS emphasizes combined care for both mental and physical health. This unified approach shows that RUHS is dedicated to meeting the complex health needs of homeless people.
Heidi Marshall, Director of HWS, said the department is focused on long-term solutions for homelessness, such as helping people find homes, job training, and support for finding work.
The county was able to house more than 5,000 people last fiscal year, and 86% of them are still living in their homes. They also added 614 permanent supportive housing units all over the county.
Karen Spiegel, Riverside County’s Second District Supervisor and a member of the Continuum of Care Board of Governance said, “addressing homelessness requires more than temporary solutions; it demands a range of services to address physical and behavioral health and housing. Our mission is to break the cycle of homelessness with comprehensive, compassionate support.”
The commemorative events are open to everyone:
- Indio Behavioral Health Clinic, 44-199 Monroe St., Indio, from 5 to 6 p.m.
- Hemet Behavioral Health Clinic, 650 N. State St., Hemet, from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Fairmount Park, 2601 Fairmount Blvd., Riverside, from 5 to 7 p.m., featuring Riverside City Council Member Erin Edwards, County Supervisor Karen Spiegel, Debora Mickelson from Project Becky, and Greg Coffos, Director of Riverside County Veterans’ Services Department.
For additional details, contact Kimberlee Samberson at 951-715-5050 or [email protected].