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N.H. communities remembering homeless deaths

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire communities are holding candlelight vigils to ­remember homeless people who have died.

The Americans Friends Service Committee listed at least 34 homelessness-related deaths in New Hampshire this year.

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The names of those who died were to be read at events in Nashua and Portsmouth on Thursday night and in Concord, Laconia, Newport, Manchester, and Keene on Friday night.

An event is also being held Friday night in White River, Junction, Vt., at the lawn of the Upper Valley Haven. Coats and blankets will be collected.

The events are part of a Homeless Memorial Day.

‘‘The longest night of the year, which also marks the official beginning of winter, is an appropriate time to remember the lives of our sisters and brothers whose deaths were in some way related to the fact that they did not have secure housing,’’ said Maggie Fogarty, coordinator of the committee’s New Hampshire Economic Justice Project.

In a proclamation for the event, Governor John Lynch urged everyone to ‘‘work together to provide those in need in our community with access to a safe, warm place to stay.’’

The event in Newport will be followed by a soup-and-bread supper at a church and a service. Bells will ring for five minutes at the start of the Keene event, followed by singing and a procession to a shelter.

The events were announced as the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness released its inaugural report for the state Thursday, looking at data from 2009 through 2012.

The report estimates the state’s homeless population this year is about 1,725. The report says after increasing 11 percent between 2010 and 2011, the homeless population decreased about 4 percent. But the numbers indicate an increase in homeless in subpopulations such as veterans.

The report said that based on New Hampshire’s ‘‘point-in-time’’ count for 2011, there were 13 homeless people per 10,000 people in the general population. That was lower than the national rate of 21 homelessper 10,000 people in the general population.

A majority counted in 2012 were in emergency shelters or transitional housing shelters, but more than one in five were living in cars, abandoned buildings, tents, or other places not intended for human habitation.

The coalition’s report looked at various economic indicators that affect people who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. Conditions worsened among housing costs, average income of the working poor, and foreclosures.

The report said the number of households in poverty that are ‘‘severely housing-cost-burdened,’’ meaning that they spent more than 50 percent of their income on rent, increased from 65 percent in 2009 to just over 68.3 percent in 2010.

‘‘Although New Hampshire is commonly portrayed in the national media to be untouched by the recession and its consequences, much of the data highlighted in this report suggest that New Hampshire citizins also struggle to maintain economic stability during these challenging times,’’ the report said.

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