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Ministers Decry Lack Of Funds To Bury Indigent

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Funeral parlor. (Credit: CBS)

Funeral parlor. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A group of Chicago ministers wants the governor and state lawmakers to come up with more money for the burial of the indigent.

As it stands now, just under $2 million is set aside this fiscal year for the burial of the indigent in Illinois – for their funerals and the burial costs.

Last fiscal year, more than $12 million was set aside.

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And a group of Chicago ministers, led by Pastor Roosevelt Watkins of Bethlehem Star Church at 92nd Street and Cottage Grove, is predicting dire consequences.

“Where will the dead bodies go? This becomes a public health issue when we have individuals who have no place to be buried,” Watkins said. “Poor people deserve to have dignity, deserve to be respected.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services says state money was used to bury 12,000 men and women last fiscal year.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he believes a decent funeral is something everyone deserves. He says he’ll look at the budget to see how much was cut from a program that pays for funerals and burials for the poor.

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