Candlelight vigil honors 98 community members who died homeless in 2022

Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 10:25 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - 98 people died experiencing homelessness in Washoe County last year, and on Wednesday night, a special vigil honored their memories.

With temperatures near freezing, dozens gathered at the Reno City Plaza to mourn the unhoused members of our community who died on the streets.

“The goal is to highlight this issue and come together to help them out,” said Rajan Zed, Universal Society of Hinduism Reno.

Faith leaders from different religions organized the vigil to shine a light on the growing issue in our area. Based on records from the Medical Examiner’s Office, homeless deaths have skyrocketed in Washoe County since 2016.

“It’s scary. I mean, to think I was homeless once here, and to think that I could’ve easily been one of those names,” said Zabra Penn who attended the vigil. “By the grace of God and people who cared, I’m not in the streets anymore.”

“They need to acknowledge, they are not that different from everybody else driving by,” said Susan McDonald who also attended the vigil.

The ceremony included prayers in different languages and the name of each deceased was read out loud.

Causes of death last year included accidents, exposure, drug use, suicide and homicide.

Organizers hope the remembrance not only brings awareness but inspires action.