LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Over the past year, many families were simultaneously dealing with a loss of income and unexpected financial costs due to COVID-19.
To help ease that burden, FEMA is offering its funeral assistance program to families who lost loved ones due to the virus.
While this money will not be able to replace the loss of a loved one, local funeral homes hope it will help these families move forward.
Starting Monday, funeral assistance applications will open, which will provide up to $9,000 in financial assistance.
Patrick Casale lost his 84-year-old mother Marlene to COVID-19 last December.
“She loved to live and lived to laugh. That’s the best thing I could say about my mother,” Casale said. “To get somebody cremated is not inexpensive. It’s not like its 500 bucks, it’s four grand all in. Then you have to pay for death certificates and everything else.”
For many families, these hospital and funeral costs were unexpected, and made a difficult situation even harder.
After Sandra Smith’s cousin, Catherine, died of COVID-19 in March of last year, the family had to pay out of pocket for the funeral.
“It’s almost impossible to bury someone if you don’t have, one, life insurance or a stack of money you know hidden under the mattress or in the bank,” Smith said.
Both families will be applying for FEMA’s funeral assistance program. To qualify, the death certificate must state they passed from COVID-19 and that expenses started after January 20 of 2020.
The contract and receipts for the funeral arrangements must also be provided.
Heritage Mortuary in Las Vegas says this money will help many families pay off credit cards or loans that were used for services and can help fulfill their loved one’s final wishes.
“They may not have had enough to actually put them away in the cemetery after the cremation,” said Larnique Mickens of Heritage Mortuary. “With this application and applying for the $9000, they may be able to get extra funds to go ahead and get a niche for their loved one.”
Both Casale and Smith say this will help many families who have struggled to give their loved one a proper goodbye.
“There’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of questions that have gone unanswered,” Casale said. “So, I would sit here and say this is, I think they’re trying to help people get some closure.”
FEMA says they have received reports that scammers are reaching out to people offering to register them for the assistance. FEMA has not sent out these notifications and will not directly contact you for this program.