Vigil held to raise awareness of homeless deaths

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Rescue Mission announced at its 17th annual candlelight vigil Sunday that 116 people have died on the city's streets this past year.

To raise awareness of the growing issue people walked through downtown carrying a pair of shoes to represent each of the people who have died from October 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017.

“Nobody should have to die on the streets by themselves,” participant Danny Jones said.

During the remembrance walk, participants stopped by churches to pray. Then, together they made their way to the San Diego County Administration building to listen to speakers and to the names of the 116 people who have died.

One of those names was recognized by Lloyd Noss and his wife.

“We actually had a friend of ours Seth Royce that passed away last year that was actually part of this memorial,” Noss told FOX 5. 

It was an emotional event for Noss because he himself knows what it is like to be homeless.

“You feel useless. Like you’re nothing,” Noss said. 

Fortunately, he got help and is now back with those who love him.

“I’m so blessed to have my family back, to have my sobriety, to have God in my life,” Noss said. 

He said if it were not for help he would have added to the number 116.

“I honestly believe that I would not be alive today,” Noss said.

The San Diego Rescue Mission wants people to know there is assistance out there, but with more than 9,000 men, women and children living on the city's streets right now the organization said more needs to be done.

“We have to work together better. We got to come together. All agencies, all churches. I know that’s complicated, but the issue is complicated,” Donnie Dee, the CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission, said. “We have the privilege of living in America’s finest city. As long as 116 people are passing away every year and 9,000 are without a home. We’ve got to say this really isn’t America’s finest city. So let's work together as a community to truly get back to this being the greatest city on the planet,” Dee said. 

The rescue mission said that the 116 homeless people who died this past year does not include those who have died from the Hepatitis A virus.