HOMELESS VIGIL

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Homeless activists gathered Wednesday night for an annual vigil in honor of homeless New Yorkers who died last year. The event, organized by Picture the Homeless, an advocacy group, was held in the basement of Judson Memorial Church in Washington Square. Organizers invited people up to the podium to remember their loved ones, with candles illuminating the space. “He was more than a friend, Gregory was a redeemer,” said Charles Heck, a member of Picture the Homeless, remembering Gregory Brooks, a fellow member of the group’s Canning Committee. According to the most recent data, roughly 1,170 people died in the city’s shelter system between 2001-2003. But, for years, the city did not track the deaths of those who lived on the streets. City Council member Christine Quinn sponsored legislation last year to change that: Health officials are now required by law to submit quarterly and yearly reports to the City Council and the mayor’s office on all homeless deaths. Yet they have already missed the first deadline of January 1, 2006. “It’s something that the council is frustrated about,” said Council spokesperson Kinsey Casey. (J. E. Mendez) [3/7/06]