United Way helps undocumented New Yorkers with the Fund for Excluded Workers

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In the Lower Hudson Valley, about 20,000 people would benefit from the Excluded Worker Fund, according to a think tank, and about 290,000 New Yorkers in total.

Undocumented Hudson Valley residents who have lost their wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic can get help accessing the state’s excluded workers’ fund by calling the 211 helpline by United Way.

New York’s $ 2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund is estimated to help nearly 300,000 people living illegally in the country with payments of $ 15,600 or $ 3,200, less taxes. Because they are undocumented, they were unable to receive unemployment assistance after losing their jobs during the pandemic.

Although the program launch on August 1 is a part, people need to know how to apply. They should also know that it’s unrelated to legal status in the country, according to Lini Jacob, United Way 211’s information and referral manager for the Hudson Valley.

This is where Centraide and other organizations come in to help people navigate their fundraising requests. Money travels fast too.

“The intention of this project has nothing to do with immigration,” said Jacob. “The state wants to provide financial support to people who are unable to obtain support through other benefits.”

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The 211 helpline, open seven days a week, has Spanish operators and translation services for hundreds of languages. United Way also hosts in-person events with community organizations to help people who have difficulty accessing the Internet.

Last Wednesday, the first in-person event with Padres Hispanos, a community organization in Ossining, drew 70 people, Jacob said. Other events are scheduled throughout the region.

In the lower Hudson Valley, around 20,000 people would benefit from the Excluded Workers Fund, according to April estimates from the Fiscal Policy Institute, a labor-backed think tank.

By the end of 2021, United Way 211 expects between 8,000 and 10,000 people in the Hudson Valley and Long Island areas to apply for the fund, Jacob said.

The fund is expected to help some 290,000 New Yorkers, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. Of those, the researchers estimated that about 92,000 would qualify for the next tier, which was overshadowed by the state’s hourly figures released on Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, nearly 168,000 claims to the fund have been submitted, of which nearly 93,000 have been approved, according to statistics from the state labor department. Almost 99.7% of approved requests went to the next level.

Last Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that more than $ 1.05 billion in funds had been approved. By the end of the week, $ 550 million was due to be released and an additional $ 500 million was subject to final verification, according to a press release.

How to apply for a $ 2.1 billion fund

In April, the state legislature created the fund as part of a $ 212 billion budget deal.

The Excluded Labor Fund distributes aid in two levels at $ 15,600 and $ 3,200. The state tax and finance department automatically deducts $ 780 for the upper level and $ 160 for the lower level.

To apply for the fund, residents must provide proof of identity, state residency, and work eligibility.

The fund does not require citizenship or immigration status, nor that the applicant prove that they are legally present in the country. Funds are also available for people whose primary breadwinner has died or has also become disabled.

The state Department of Labor bases proof of identity on a four-point system. A New York State driver’s license, for example, is worth four points, while a marriage certificate is worth one point.

While a driver’s license or ID card is sufficient to prove residency, workers can also use two documents such as a utility bill, bank statement, or letter from a homeless shelter. .

Eligibility for the fund is based on four criteria:

  • Lived in New York State before March 27, 2020 and continued to live in the state;
  • Not eligible for, nor received, unemployment insurance or other pandemic income relief or other state or federal benefits;
  • Earned less than $ 26,208 for one year before April;
  • You lost at least 50% of your weekly earnings between February 23, 2020 and April 1.

The $ 15,600 tier is equivalent to $ 300 per week per year, roughly the same amount of regular unemployment insurance. However, pandemic benefits for the unemployed with legal status are more than double that higher level.

Workers must have filed tax returns in 2018, 2019, or 2020 using a valid U.S. taxpayer ID, or ITIN. If they don’t have an ITIN, they have other options, such as a letter from the employer with dates of employment and why they no longer have a job; a W-2 or 1099 form from one of the past two years; or at least six weeks of pay stubs or payslips over a six month period.

The lower level, $ 3,200, applies to those who have not declared taxes and cannot prove loss of income. The amount is equal to the three federal stimulus payments of $ 1,200, $ 600 and $ 1,400.

United Way’s 211 hotline for the fund – made possible by a $ 220,000 grant from the state Department of Labor – can help Hudson Valley workers overcome these differences. For example, said Jacob, if employers are afraid to show they have hired undocumented workers, workers can post text messages confirming dates and times of employment.

Once approved, applicants will receive a prepaid Visa card in the mail. They can use it at an ATM and anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. It is estimated that it takes six to eight weeks from the time a person applies to the fund for help.

United Way’s 211 Hudson Valley line is open 24 hours a day, but Excluded Labor Fund assistance is available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Those interested in applying can also visit the state Department of Labor website, call 800-662-1220 for English and 877-662-4886 for Spanish, or visit trusted organizations based on a list of states, which includes United Way 211 of the Hudson Valley. .

Eduardo Cuevas covers diversity, equity and inclusion in Westchester and Rockland counties. He can be contacted at EMCuevas1@lohud.com and followed on Twitter @eduardomcuevas.



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