Candlelight vigil honors memory of Utahns who died while homeless

Posted at 9:52 PM, Dec 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 23:52:16-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- On a cold December night, the Salt Lake community held candles in the dark to bring an important issue to light.

Just four years ago, Rachel Santizo was homeless and addicted.

“It’s beautiful to be able to make light of my dark,” Santizo said.

Santizo spoke to the crowd in Pioneer Park Thursday night about how she managed to pick herself back up.

“There’s family out there: We’re all one," Santizo said. "Really, it’s what it comes down to. We all hurt the same. Pain is pain, and there’s hope out there."

In the past year, 97 homeless people died in Salt Lake City--and 44 of them were living on the streets at the time. Garrett Barnes of the 4th Street Clinic says this is proof that the homelessness issue is growing.

“Some messages out there are that we’ve figured it out, that we’ve beat homelessness, that it’s not existing: And that’s absolutely false,” Barnes said.

One by one, those 97 names were read out loud, reminding us all that a life on the streets is no way to live.

“Seeing all these people here tonight, it’s amazing," Santizo said. "This is the funeral that these individuals get that were suffering from homelessness."

The event was sponsored by the 4th Street Clinic, which is one of many programs offering free services to the city’s homeless population.