more unclaimed bodies as economy impacts funerals - black plastic sheeting
Walking into the morgue in Oregon's forensic office is to face poverty at the last minute.
In this cold and dark locker, the deceased lay on the plastic cloth on the steel table.
These people are not the ones who are watched by their families. Dr.
Karen Gunson's morgue is the first stop for those killed in a car accident or shooting, or for those who died alone at home.
Gunson said: "Many times, if they happen to end up in the forensic office, they make some choices in their lives and they are no longer close to their families.
It may be drugs, alcohol, or just wandering.
It's very rare that we can't find anyone.
Gunson says these people died unexpectedly with their families.
If they have a family
Oregon is one of several states that are funding so-
Known as the funeral of poverty
Historically, the money is the cost of providing final services to people who do not have a home or relatives.
But Gunson said the number of unclaimed bodies was unprecedented in 2009.
A month or more
Not because family members cannot be found, but because of financial reasons, families cannot afford to pay even the most basic $500 cremation.
"We really don't want to be a storage place," she said . ".
This trend is difficult to track.
In Oregon, where demand for the poverty burial fund was so high last year, the legislature had to nearly triple the cost of the death certificate to keep the fund solvent.
Illinois has received so many requests for burial help that the fund was temporarily closed this summer.
In Michigan, the economy lost 300,000 jobs last year, and the funeral of poverty almost doubled, from 603 to 1,100.
Oregon has passed an arrangement to send unclaimed remains to the funeral home, thus avoiding the overcrowding of the morgue, which then requires families to pay at least part of the cost.
Just then, real negotiations on the final arrangement began.
On last October, when the morgue began calling for payment, Rosemary gozworthy was still shocked by the death of her father.
"My mom called me and said you might want to call them because nothing was done," Goldsworthy said . ".
"This will happen if no one pays.
He will be buried in the grave with a group of strangers who have not been claimed, in some county cemeteries.
She and her fiancé live in a small town with an unemployment rate of up to 14%.
They barely got it from him-
The salary of the furniture factory.
While she negotiated a rare payment plan for her father's funeral, the family told her that they would not be able to help pay a down payment of $340.
The director of the funeral said such heated discussions are not uncommon now.
After months of negotiations, the morgue finally agreed to release her father's ashes at a nominal cost.
Gozworthy said she had been wondering what his cremated remains would look like and where they would end.
"I want some of him," she said . "
"I want a part of my dad.
"But what about families who can't afford, can't afford or can't find money?
UnclaimedErin Phelps is the owner of Omega Funeral and Cremation Services in Portland.
"We are here, the unclaimed cremated remains, and we keep them in this storage utility area," he said . ".
In an unfinished corner of his morgue loft, rows of white boxes are neatly stacked together, each with the name of an unclaimed person.
About 60 people have come here for 16 years to rest.
There is no doubt that many surviving families have had real trouble paying funeral expenses, Phelps said.
But he also noted that more people have found reasons not to pay for the black sheep of the family and look forward to the intervention of the Poor burial fund.
"I find the hardest thing to accept is when someone has the resources and doesn't do anything at all," Phelps said . ".
So every few months, when Phelps arranges a paid service off the Oregon coast, his staff will take the remains with him to deal with cases he believes have been closed after years of research.
Unclaimed ashes were transported out of the ocean by truck, scattered in the waters of tiramouk Bay.