Marilaurice Hemlock had some personal connection to Thursday night's Homeless Memorial March in Minneapolis; she carried signs with the names of two homeless advocates she knew who passed away this year.

One of them was Richard "Amin" Amos, a former co-worker of Hemlock's at St. Stephen's shelter. She said Amos had been in prison earlier in his life, and used that experience to help other formerly incarcerated people find a job or get housing.

Each year, organizers from Simpson Housing and the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless hand out signs with the names of every Minnesotan who died in the previous 12 months who had experienced homelessness at some point, as well as advocates who helped them.

Hemlock and other marchers said the event is crucial because, in many cases, those who die on the streets often don't get a proper memorial service.

"It's hugely important for me to remember those who died in this population — this might be the entirety of their remembrance," Hemlock said as she began to march.

In 2023, 132 people died while homeless, 108 individuals who were previously homeless, and 26 advocates, according to Simpson Housing Services.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan addressed the crowd of about 300 marchers before they took off from the parking lot of Plymouth Congregational Church. The group walked silently to Loring Park and back, then held a service in the church after placing the signs near a display of candles to be lit for each person who died.

In an interview, Flanagan said she marched last year carrying a sign with the name of her mother, an advocate who died in 2022.

Flanagan said she was proud of the state's work in the past year to secure funding for housing, but said there's more work to be done.

"As a person of faith, 'The poor will always be with you' was not an instruction, but it was a reminder that we all have a responsibility to ensure that people have access to basic needs, and that's my job," she said.