The City of Hialeah wants a funeral home to move a refrigerated container on its property to the furthest point away from neighboring homes as residents have complained about people's bodies being stored there while awaiting funeral services.
The container, at Memorial Plan San José funeral home, is just feet away from Liliana Acosta’s Los Portales home. It’s up against her back fence.
“I smell chemicals and I smell all kinds of things,” said Acosta, who added that it's been there for a week.
On Sunday, neighbors protested for it to be moved. On Monday, we took those demands to Hialeah mayor Carlos Hernandez.
“There is no smell, the health department is responsible for that,” Hernandez said. “There is no smell, there is no nothing there.”
He tells NBC 6 the funeral home isn't doing anything wrong.
“There’s been no violations whatsoever by the funeral home with the Health Department or with the City of these emergency circumstances,” he added.
A short time after the mayor said that, workers were on top of the container.
The mayor said the funeral home has agreed to move the container to a different area of their parking lot. But that was not enough for Acosta.
“Unacceptable,” she said. “We are not having it.”
She wants it removed from the funeral home’s property.
Memorial Plan San José told NBC 6 in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our community that has and continues to experience so much heartbreak. We continue to do everything we can to be there for each person who is suffering and to respond to our community during these unprecedented times.”
It goes on to say, “While there is no risk, which we have demonstrated to health officials, elected officials and police when they inspected the facility, out of an abundance of understanding and compassion for our neighbors, we have worked with the Mayor and other officials to shift the location of our special care facility away from our neighbors to the other side of our property.”
“We are especially grateful for the support of so many in our city and community, who have made such an important effort in understanding the realities our community faces as we work together to protect our community and serve families,” the funeral home wrote.
Mayor Hernandez said several funeral homes throughout the city are dealing with similar problems with storage while awaiting funerals.
“The hospitals are overburdened and our funeral homes are starting to see that, and we have bodies that we have to put away and put to rest,” he said.
Acosta believes more needs to be done for her and her neighbors.
“I’m not OK and we’re going to keep fighting because that needs to go away,” she said.
The mayor said the container will be moved away from Acosta’s home by the end of this week.