Rochester, N.Y. - Monroe County Democrats are calling on the Brooks Administration to improve the way it handles the deaths and burials of poor people.
“Events of the last year have highlighted the indigent burial process,” says Minority Leader Ted O’Brien. “It’s our view that it doesn’t live up to the standard.”
Six years ago the county changed the way it funded indigent burials, cutting vouchers to pay for them by a third from $1850 to $1250. That is enough to pay for cremation, but not a full burial.
“People come to us for help and say ‘we can’t burn out loved one,” says Sister Grace Miller who runs the House of Mercy. She says in the last 3 weeks there have been 16 requests for financial help.
The stories are heart breaking. Last July 12 year old Armmonite Outing- an honor student – went o bead with a headache and never woke up. He wasn’t buried until more than eight weeks later- because his mother had to raise $4-thousand dollars to pay for the funeral, first.
“I didn’t have enough money to bury him,” Marilyn Outing recalls. “He’d been at the funeral home for two months and two weeks in the freezer.”
“We’ve had people who have made posters and gone up and down the street with tin cans trying to raise money for burial of a loved one,” says Sister Grace.
Many of them are buried in the poor section of Oatka Cemetery Sister Grace calls “Potters Field.” The poorly marked and maintained graves are located near a shed, away from where others are laid to rest.
“You have people that don’t have insurance…who aren’t prepared for death,” says Kevin Robinson. “I’m one of them…this is where you are going to end up, having no respect.”