Saturday, November 28, 2009

Urban death, urban despair

Each year for the past 15, Central Dallas Ministries has assisted low-income families bury their dead.  While every situation is unique, all share in common a desperation and an anxiety impossible to describe.  I find nothing more unsettling or difficult as the challenge facing very poor families when they've lost a loved one.  On top of the natural grief, the burden of claiming the remains and finding a way to pay for burial often proves extremely difficult. 

My own experience with these awful times drew me to the report below about the city of Detroit and the difficulties facing its morgue.  The story reports on what may best be regarded as a symbol of urban despair in our nation's central cities.

Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despairTim Reid in Detroit

The abandoned corpses, in white body bags with number tags tied to each toe, lie one above the other on steel racks inside a giant freezer in Detroit’s central mortuary, like discarded shoes in the back of a wardrobe.

Some have lain here for years, but in recent months the number of unclaimed bodies has reached a record high. For in this city that once symbolised the American Dream many cannot even afford to bury their dead.

“I have not seen this many unclaimed bodies in 13 years on the job,” said Albert Samuels, chief investigator at the mortuary. “It started happening when the economy went south last year. I have never seen this many people struggling to give people their last resting place.”

Unburied bodies piling up in the city mortuary — it reached 70 earlier this year — is the latest and perhaps most appalling indignity to be heaped on the people of Detroit. The motor city that once boasted the highest median income and home ownership rate in the US is today in the midst of a long and agonising death spiral.

To read the entire article click here.


Anonymous said...

City, State, % of People Below the Poverty Level (pop. 250,000+)
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey, August 2007)

Detroit , MI 32.5%
Buffalo , NY 29.9%
Cincinnati , OH 27.8%
Cleveland , OH 27.0%
Miami , FL 26.9%
St. Louis , MO 26.8%
El Paso , TX 26.4%
Milwaukee , WI 26.2%
Philadelphia , PA 25.1%
Newark , NJ 24.2%

Democrat Party Rule in these Cities

Detroit, MI hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1961
Buffalo, NY hasn’t elected one since 1954
Cincinnati, OH …since 1984
Cleveland, OH …since 1989
Miami, FL has never had a Republican mayor
St. Louis, MO ….since 1949
El Paso, TX has never had a Republican mayor
Milwaukee, WI …since 1908
Philadelphia, PA …since 1952
Newark, NJ …since 1907

Anonymous said...

In every Republican administration beginning with Reagan in 1981, poverty has risen. But, this wasn't anywhere near the point of Larry's post. Why do some people take it here no matter what the topic?

Anonymous said...

it has always been the point. democrat politicians can't balance a checkbook, much less meet a budget. for them the answer is ALWAYS to give money to the most convenient voting block - even if they have to import them from a foriegn country.

Anonymous said...


Consider Johnson, Carter.

Then look at Reagan from 1983-88.

Tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

no way you can say that about just the dems, not after Bush and his 8 years of spending.

Anonymous said...

didn't defend Bush. never will. poverty. why are dems the long-term slumlords of the poorest U.S. cities?

Anonymous said...

because the urban poor realize that things would be far, far worse if the typical repubs were in charge. . .just look at texas and perry and how the state ranks in issues related to the poor

Anonymous said...

let's see. i pointed out the dem/poverty relationship, then you tried to blame it on repubs, then you tried to pin Bush, now your going after Perry. back to question. why do Dem mayors preside over long-term poverty? can you answer? intelligently? focus.

Anonymous said...

let's talk about the difference between a conservative philosophy of govt. and a liberal one:,0,825554.story

Anonymous said...

Wow - unless I totally missed the mark, Larry's primary point was about an issue of compassion. It was immeidately turned into and stayed political. What the ...??!!