New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of a $27 million relief program for undocumented survivors of the flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
This article originally appeared in Spanish. Lea la versión en español aquí.
On Sept. 26, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of a relief program for undocumented persons who were affected by the floods and storms generated by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
The $27 million relief program—minus administrative fees—is aimed at New York State residents who do not qualify for federal aid handled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Ida (FEMA). In short, undocumented individuals or undocumented families who do not have U.S.-born children.
Eight community-based organizations (CBOs) will be in charge of both the application process and distributing the funds, and the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) will refer individuals to one of the selected organizations in the counties designated under the Presidential Disaster Declaration, which includes the Bronx, Kings, Nassau, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland.
The program officially opened on Sept. 27 and City Limits has prepared this guide after contacting the governor’s office and three CBOs selected to distribute these funds.
How does the assistance program work?
This program provides a maximum of $36,000 in grants in two categories: housing-related assistance and other needs assistance for a maximum of up to $72,000.
Eric Poulson, deputy director of programs at the Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, explained that housing-related expenses include: repairs to the residence, infrastructure, payments for temporary lodging in hotels, motels, and rental assistance up to a maximum of $36,000.
Other expenses include funeral assistance up to a maximum of $12,000 per household; child care assistance up to $3,300; critical needs assistance such as transportation, food, and water up to $500 per household; vehicle damage assistance up to $10,000 for one vehicle; moving assistance, cleanup of contaminated areas, $500 maximum.
What kind of documentation is required?
Broadly speaking, documentation will be needed to confirm the applicant’s identity, residency at the time of the storm, and damage sustained.
Photo identification will be required to prove identity, explains Steve Mei, director of the Brooklyn branch of the Chinese American Planning Council, and that includes an IDNYC card, passport, New York driver’s license, NYC Parks and Recreation membership card, among others. For proof of residency, a lease, rent payment, utility bills and others will be accepted.
CBOs recommend collecting evidence of the damage such as photos or videos, receipts, to document flood losses as much as possible and to make a list of damaged or lost items. There is an option of self-attestation in place of documentation under the perjury of law.
How and where can I apply for this assistance?
The most efficient way to apply is to go to one of the selected organizations, as they are in charge of the selection process and the distribution of funds. Applicants may call the ONA hotline at 1-800-566-7636, which will provide guidance on the documentation that must be submitted along with the application, and then make a referral to an organization in the area.
These are the eight organizations selected:
Catholic Charities Community Services
402 East 152nd St., Bronx, NY 10455.
Chinese American Planning Council
4101 8th Ave., 4th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11232
MinKwon Center for Community Action
133-29 41st Ave., Suite 202, Flushing, NY 11355
Make the Road New York
92-10 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, NY 11372
(718) 565-8500 ext 5
- Staten Island:
Make the Road
161 Port Richmond Ave., Staten Island, NY 10302
(718) 565-8500 ext 5
Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County
134 Jackson St., Hempstead, NY 11550
Make the Road
1090 Suffolk Ave., Brentwood, NY 11717
(718) 565-8500 ext 5
- Westchester & Rockland
27 Columbus Ave., Mount Kisco, NY 10549
Those who apply will need to submit a two-page application and related documentation. “It is important to note that applications cannot be submitted over the phone,” explained the spokesperson for the governor’s office, “they must be submitted to one of the assisting partner organizations.” ONA’s hotline assistance is confidential and available in over 200 languages.
Prior to approval, a visit to the affected home is likely to be scheduled for an inspection. “The CBOs will be in charge of inspections,” Mei clarified.
“All organizations will be required to perform inspections and monitoring to ensure funding is used appropriately. Organizations may use virtual inspections as a tool to verify the need for financial assistance,” added the governor’s spokesman.
How long will it take for applicants to receive the money?
That’s not yet known. “The goal is to get this out to community members in need as soon as possible,” said Mei.
“There will be instances where it takes time to collect documentation for longer-term replacement of losses,” said the spokesman.
How many people have applied so far?
As of Sept. 29, the Chinese-American Planning Council reported no applicants yet, but said they have had 10 inquiries and are starting to make appointments to process these requests. The Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau was reporting zero applications.
“Individuals will have 60 days to start the application process with us,” said Yatziri Tovar, a spokeswoman for Make the Road NY.
“As the application period just opened, we do not yet have numbers on submitted applications but the ONA Hotline has fielded more than 100 calls on this,” said the governor’s spokesman. “We will be following up with the organizations regularly to ensure they distribute the funds as quickly as possible.”