DES MOINES, Iowa — The first day of winter is a solemn day for Iowa’s houseless population. In addition to the start of the year’s coldest season, it also marks the day when Iowans remember the people who died while houseless throughout the year.

Joppa held its annual Iowa Homeless Memorial on the steps of the Statehouse Wednesday night. Despite the frigid cold and snow, dozens of people stood outside to remember more than 40 houseless Iowans who died in the past twelve months.

“People who die homeless typically have no funeral or memorial service, and often family and friends don’t know they’re gone,” said Joppa CEO Joe Stevens during the event.

At least one death this year was attributed to the cold: an unidentified man froze to death in his tent on the banks of the Des Moines River this February.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie attended the memorial and gave a proclamation in honor of the city’s houseless population. He said he realizes the risk people without a home face in the winter weather.

“It absolutely brings it right into focus. This is one of those nights when those people who are out houseless and without shelter need support,” Cownie said. “That’s why we like to direct them to places where they can get the food, get the support, and get the shelter.”

The city uses places such as libraries as warming shelters during business hours, but the main overnight warming shelter is Central Iowa Shelter and Services.