Lifespan of a Homeless Person

We participated in the Minnesota Homeless Memorial March and Service in December. It is a somber time of celebration for lives that most of the world has overlooked. People living in poverty often don’t get noticed, even in death. No obituary and possibly no service. It seems no one cares. That’s what I love about this event. It’s a brief demonstration of love for those mostly forgotten and discarded.

The event honors, by name, those reported in as having been homeless, formerly homeless or been a person working as an advocate for the homeless and has passed away since last year’s event. Of the “homeless”, there were 101 people. It listed each person’s name, the city considered to be his or her residence and the age at death.

I calculated the average age for the total sample of 101 people. It was 42. The average age of death for the 67 people listed as “formerly homeless” was 50. I realize this is a small statistical sample set, but from it one could conclude that being in some form of housing extends one’s life, either about eight years, or in the case of the average American (age 79) more than 30 years. Of course, there’s lots of factors in play here, but let’s face it; we buried at least 101 people in Minnesota in 2019 with the average age of 42. Most died alone, estranged from society and if not for this event, mostly forgotten.

With recent crisis in our community of The Wall of Forgotten Natives in 2018 and then the loss of the Drake Hotel on Christmas 2019, is it time that we step up for those who struggle? Does everyone in our society deserve to be housed?

I will respect your answer but I challenge you to ask yourself the question.

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