A little bit of help: city ups funeral assistance for grieving families

Helping to say goodbye to loved ones.
Helping to say goodbye to loved ones.(John Minchillo/AP)

At least 13,536 New York City residents (and likely many more) have died of the coronavirus. Each loss is a tragedy for families and friends, one exacerbated by the way social distancing rules have prevented loved ones from comforting the dying or holding traditional funerals to process their grief. Adding insult to that injury, many families, newly jobless or otherwise under financial strain because of the virus, are struggling to pay for burials and funerals, which cost $8,000 on average here.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency should help by approving New York’s request for disaster funeral assistance to help, just as it did after another natural disaster, Superstorm Sandy. FEMA told the Daily News that New York’s request is “under consideration.” What could the feds possibly be waiting for, another 13,000 dead?
As Washington leaves mourners hanging, the Daily News Editorial Board has learned that local officials are rightly stepping up, increasing financial aid low-income families can get through the city’s burial assistance program from the current state-set level of $900 to $1,700, to take the edge off funerals and related expenses that total $3,400 or less. The maximum aid amount hadn’t changed in years, even as funeral costs have risen.
Without that help, families could be forced to bury loved ones without headstones in the mass graves of hard-to-visit Hart Island. New Yorkers have given up too much to this virus already. They shouldn’t have to forfeit the right to give their loved ones dignified final resting places.

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