City recognizes National Homeless Memorial Day

City recognizes National Homeless Memorial Day

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

It is a statistic that the City of Lubbock is not overlooking. The Center for Disease and Prevention reported homeless people have a mortality rate, four to nine times high than the norm.

Chad Wheeler with the South Plains Consortium said the homeless population is on the rise in Lubbock.

"On any given night in Lubbock, there are more than 434 people experiencing homelessness and we're here tonight to say that that's too many people," Wheeler said.

He said they are taking a moment to honor lives lost this past year.

"We remember those who have past away, but we also recommit ourselves to assisting those who remain homeless,"  Wheeler said.

The city recognized National Homeless Memorial Day. Wheeler said it is important to take care of our citizens, on or off the streets. 

"This is a complex issue and not everyone experiencing homelessness isn't the same, or faces the same obstacles," Wheeler said.

For Salvation Army Captain, Nathanael Doria, It was his father who inspired him.

"My father was a homeless person in Mexico city and he was just a teenager." Doria said. "He was 13 years of age." 

Doria's father, parentless, was homeless until he was approached by the Salvation Army Christmas Eve. 

"He enjoyed the meal, but he really didn't want to go back to the streets, because the Salvation army offered a bed for him." Doria said. "This was just the beggining of a new life." 

Like his father, Doria is an officer who dedicates his life to helping others.

"We do our best to open a door to anyone who comes to the Salvation Army," Doria said.

Jaime Wheeler with the ministry, Open Door said it is a bittersweet vigil. 

"One of our friends who was on the street, we were able to bring into housing and he actually passed away when we were with him," Jaime said.

Despite the tragic death, for Jaime it is an example of the difference she makes in others lives.

"It's this beautiful thing at the same time." Jaime said. "Even in this tension of craziness, and that he left us so quickly, that he was still surrounded by people that loved him and cared for him.""

She recognized progress has been made and is confident they will continue to house more people.

"I just look forward to a time when we will come together and there won't be opportunities for those things to happen." Jaime said. "And people will be surrounded by love, by home, by family." 

In the past 90 days, the South Plains Homeless consortium, Salvation Army, and the City of Lubbock reported moving more than 45 homeless people in permanent housing.

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