CHUM Holds Vigil For This Year’s Lost Homeless At Duluth City Hall

DULUTH, Minn. — 69 people have lost their lives this year in Duluth that either were homeless or connected to being homeless. CHUM gathered people on Christmas Eve at the steps of Duluth City Hall, reading off names and giving a moment of silence for each life lost.

“Just over the last month we lost people just due to the elements. And we need to be really concerned. It’s unconscionable that people are dying on our streets,” said Deb Holman, Street Outreach Coordinator for CHUM.

“But really, it’s not about the elements, it’s about all of the other things that beat down on you amid poverty and long-term homelessness that wears your body down to a point that you’re more vulnerable,” said Patrice Critchley-Menor, CHUM Board President.

CHUM leaders say that each person lost was special and rememberable. Holman recalls Isaac, a middle-aged father who was lost just earlier this year while being homeless.

Holman said, “Isaac, who struggled his whole life with different battles that, and he remained strong through it all. And we lost him this year. He was a father, he was still a son, he was a friend. He was very special to all of us.”

Another kind soul that was lost was Mary Edlund, who Critchley-Menor recalls as being educated and torn between the Twin Cities and Duluth.

Critchley-Menor said, “I didn’t know this until I read her obituary, but she was always vulnerable. It was astonishing how highly educated she was and capable, she held responsible positions and it was crushing to know what her life ended up being this struggle of vulnerability.”

St. Louis County released a report in May of this year showing that roughly 800 people are homeless, CHUM suspects those numbers to be higher, potentially reaching over a thousand. CHUM’s doors are open for those to seek refuge from the harsh winter, but CHUM leaders are reporting that 100 to 120 people stay the night at one of their shelters with another 90 people crowding into their warming center each night.

“Hopefully, people are aware of that and feel welcomed because there will always be somebody there to welcome them,” said Critchley-Menor.

CHUM advises anyone to call their street outreach hotline, for any tips for helping someone that is currently homeless, or at risk of being homeless themselves, at (218) 461-8505. CHUM is open 24/7 throughout the holidays.

“We don’t need to be losing people at a young or old age. Every life matters,” said Holman.

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