By David Brand
For 40 years, David Broxton worked in sales, even owning his own store before he developed a drug addiction and became homeless.
In 2002, Broxton overcame his addiction and moved into a shelter for older men operated by Care for the Homeless. Eventually he saved enough to money to move into his own apartment.
Broxton died earlier this year, one of at least 150 New Yorkers who experienced homelessness and died in the past year.
On Dec. 19, Care for the Homeless will honor those individuals at the annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, a memorial that takes place in cities throughout the United States. The memorial is free and will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Bonnell Hall at the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55 St. in Manhattan.
The event features a meal, music and candlelight vigil. Queens state Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi will also speak.
“Even as we pause to remember and grieve for those who passed away while unstably housed, we need to acknowledge that chronic homelessness can rob a person of 30 or even 40 years of life. As a society, we have it within our power to end the modern day homeless crisis,” said Care For the Homeless’ Executive Director George Nashak. “And it starts with rectifying poor policy choices. Better policies can end homelessness as we know it.”
The organization and its members on the Consumer Advisory Board advocate for those policies — including truly affordable housing and the development of more supportive housing — each day and invite others to join them.
After connecting with Care for the Homeless, Broxton joined the organization's Consumer Advisory Board and served as a community leader, even after he moved into his apartment.
“Every time I get a chance, I try to encourage the clients here to get involved, take that quantum leap into a better quality of life,” Broxton said. “There is no age limit on that. You don’t have to grow old in a homeless shelter.”