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Advocates gather in Boyle Heights to hold memorial service for homeless who died this year

Activists gather to hold memorial service for deceased homeless in LA County
Activists gather to hold memorial service for deceased homeless in LA County 03:02

A number of advocates gathered in Boyle Heights on Saturday to pay their respects to the many homeless that died on the streets of Los Angeles this year. 

Hosted by Theo Henderson and We the Unhoused, the event honors the homeless community and raises awareness for their cause. 

Attendees met to remember neighbors, friends and the thousands of unhoused people that they never had a chance to meet. They shared the names of their fallen friends on a casket covered in a white sheet. 

This is the third year that Henderson held the "Can You See Me?" memorial.

"It's important for us to remember that the people that are in this community are human beings," he said. "They are your neighbors, even though that they are outside. A building doesn't create a neighborhood."

The service comes on the heels of a number of steps taken by newly-elected Mayor Karen Bass over the past week. On Monday, in her first act as mayor, she declared a state of emergency to address the homeless crisis before signing an executive order aimed at both accelerate the construction of affordable housing and lower costs. 

Ben Lehrer, of Lehrer Architects, assisted in hosting the event. His firm has constructed dozens of tiny homes around Los Angeles County, hoping that they can help with the crisis first hand. 

"We always have to feel optimistic, architecture is optimism," he said. "It's the belief that there's no throwaway space."

He, along with the others gathered at the service, hope that the beginning of a new administration could be the beginning of a new life for many of Los Angeles's homeless community members. 

"They says if you can make it in the streets of LA, you can make it anywhere, it's hardcore here," said one woman at the memorial, who hopes that Bass can end the era of indifference towards the homeless "Nobody gives a s— about you. They step over you as they come out of the store, they step over you as they come out of their house."

While they believe many steps are being taken in the right direction, those gathered Saturday still worry about possible laws that could criminalize homelessness by restricting where people set up their places to live. 

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