The state expects the fund will help 40,000 families. (Courtesy of Make the Road New Jersey)
Just two weeks after it launched, the state’s excluded workers fund has received nearly 3,600 applications, according to the Department of Human Services.
The $40 million fund was long anticipated by the state’s undocumented residents and others who were excluded from pandemic relief like stimulus checks and unemployment benefits. Announced by Gov. Phil Murphy in May, the fund provides one-time payments to eligible residents, with a maximum of $2,000 per household.
Households with annual incomes of up to $55,000 can apply, and must provide proof they experienced hardships due to the pandemic. Documents can include bank statements, letters from landlords, unpaid medical bills relating to COVID-19, or a notice from employers or a child’s school.
The Department did not say how many of the applications have been approved. Once the agency approves an application, the money will be distributed in two to three weeks, according to the DHS’s website.
Applications are still open and reviewed on a rolling basis. The money is being awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.
Advocates have called for more cash to be added to the pot of money, pointing to New York’s now-depleted $2.1 billion fund, which offered up to $15,600 to eligible workers. Murphy has expressed support for increasing the amount of the fund, but he has not committed to doing so.
Republicans in New Jersey hammered Murphy over the fund in the waning weeks of the gubernatorial campaign, with Sen. Michael Testa (R-Cumberland) saying the governor “clobbered the working poor so he could write checks to illegals.”
Currently, the fund is expected to help 20,000 to 40,000 families. New Jersey is home to more than 460,000 undocumented immigrants.
Make the Road New Jersey, a pro-labor and immigration organization based in Elizabeth, has called on the governor to add $989 million to the fund, which would be enough to provide the equivalent of $2,000 stimulus checks and $600 in unemployment checks to eligible residents.
Several organizations are assisting residents who need help applying, with services offered in English, Spanish, Portugese and Turkish.
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