NJ launches website for COVID aid for unauthorized immigrants
TRENTON – Immigrants who weren’t eligible for pandemic-era stimulus programs and unemployment benefits because they’re not legally in the country will be able to apply later this month for cash from the state.
The state Department of Human Services launched a website for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund on Wednesday, so that would-be applicants can check their eligibility and determine what they’ll have to show to document their financial hardship.
Eligible households can receive one-time payments of $1,000 per individual or $2,000 for a household with more than one eligible adult, age 18 or older. Households with annual incomes of $55,000 or less are eligible.
“We know families continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and this program is here to help,” said acting Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “If you believe you are eligible, I encourage you to use this time and get ready by going to the website to get the information needed for the application. The website has helpful information you can use to prepare before the application opens.”
“The better prepared individuals are when the application opens, the quicker they will receive the support they need if they are eligible,” said Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira.
Applications will be processed in the order they’re received. The state is putting $40 million into the program – enough for 20,000 households if they’re all families, or more if there are single filers.
Nedia Morsy, organizing director for Make the Road New Jersey, welcomed the launch of the website but wants to work with the state to make sure the documentation needs don’t block people from the program who need the help.
It has now been 19 months since the onset of the economic disruptions of the pandemic and more than five months since Murphy announced the fund in early May.
“We want to make sure that people are receiving the funds quickly. We’re heading into two years after the pandemic has started,” Morsy said.
Morsy said the $40 million will reach only about 10% of those eligible. She expects that to happen quickly.
“Hopefully that itself will be a rallying cry to the Governor’s Office and the Legislature that we need to see an increase in the fund immediately,” she said.
The program isn’t limited to unauthorized immigrants, but that’s the biggest group. There are an estimated 460,000 in New Jersey, though not all would be eligible for the program.
Applicants won’t be asked about their place of birth, citizenship or immigration status – but will have to provide identification and proof of New Jersey residency, plus other documents including bank records and a self-attestation that they weren’t eligible for pandemic financial aid programs.
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.