Pandemic strains budget of Metro's indigent burial program

Posted at 9:34 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 23:26:15-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are making it harder for families to pay the final expenses of their loved ones, and now the money budgeted to a Metro program meant to help struggling families has run out.

The Hills of Calvary Memorial Park is the final resting spot for many Nashvillians whose families can’t afford a proper burial. At the cemetery, they’re given that final dignity, along with a headstone, thanks to Metro’s Indigent Burial and Cremation Services program.

With COVID-19 responsible for layoffs and lost jobs, the Mayor’s office says more families are asking them for burial assistance, so much so that the program’s budget has run out - something the program’s director doesn’t want to see.

"First of all the medical examiner's office would be crowded with, I hate to say it, bodies," said Carol Wilson, the program's manager. "The hospitals, morgues would be overcrowded, especially during this pandemic time."

In a letter last week, Mayor John Cooper asked Governor Bill Lee for $300,000 along with other requests, to continue the program, explaining in the letter: “Sadly, no more needs to be said here.” Along with the other items Cooper asked for, Lee rejected that request, saying he hopes Cooper will reprioritize COVID-19 relief money to help struggling businesses.