The Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk will use a $300,000 state grant to assist county residents who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic and were left out of various federal relief programs, including unemployment and pandemic benefits.
EOC, a nonprofit that promotes self-sufficiency among low-income families and individuals, has tapped into the $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund that was approved as part of the state budget. The fund is managed by the state’s Department of Labor.
Unlike other employees, undocumented workers who lost their jobs or had their hours cut because of the pandemic did not qualify for federal unemployment benefits or stimulus checks. The EWF aims to compensate these workers.
“This historic fund offers desperately needed help to the undocumented community,” Adrian Fassett, CEO of EOC, said in a written statement. “Excluded workers have faced months of lost income for themselves and their families. EWF funds will help them make up the difference.”
The excluded workers include domestic workers, food service workers, construction workers, and many others.
To be eligible for one-time payments of up to $15,600, workers must prove that they lost at least 50 percent of their weekly earnings between February 23, 2020 and April 1, 2021 because of the pandemic. Applicants must also show that they are state residents, have not already received other unemployment benefits, and earned less than $26,208 within the 12 months prior to April 2021.
The amount that applicants receive is largely dependent on the level of employment documentation provided. Suffolk County residents interested in the EWF program can visit: dol.ny.gov/EWF