After her 4-year-old son, Mychal Moultry Jr., was shot in the city while visiting his father during the Labor Day weekend, Angela Gregg’s family had to pay $13,000 for funeral expenses.
Gregg would have liked to have her son buried; she settled for cremation instead.
“The money was not there,” Gregg said Monday, speaking at St. Sabina Church on the South Side.
Gregg said she’s applied for state funding intended to help victims of gun violence but is still waiting to be reimbursed.
“Every child deserves to grow up free from gun violence, but when their innocent lives are cut short … families are left to grieve. This is too much tragedy, too much loss for these families. They don’t need the additional burden of financial distress,” said state Sen. Jacqueline Collins.
Collins, D-Chicago, is sponsoring the Mychal Moultry Jr. Funeral and Burial Assistance Act, which would allow the state to pay funeral and burial service providers up to $10,000 for someone under 17 who dies of gun violence. The money would be available to families with incomes of less than $40,000.
“Families who meet the income criteria would only have to submit simple paperwork to the funeral service provider, and then they could bury their child without taking on financial hardship,” said Dr. Dave Nayak, founder of the community nonprofit Strength to Love Foundation, another supporter of the bill.
The average cost of a funeral is about $9,400, according to supporters of the bill.
Collins said the current state program requires families to pay upfront and then wait to be reimbursed.
“It includes an often lengthy evaluation and review process that can take months or even years before a final determination has been made,” Collins said.
Collins said conversations about her proposed legislation are ongoing with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
Nayak said the bill seeks about $350,000 annually for the next three years to fund funeral expenses statewide.