NJ reinstates $24 million in pandemic relief program for immigrants
TRENTON — The Murphy administration announced late Thursday that it will replenish federal funds taken from its COVID relief program for unauthorized immigrants and extend the program for a month until the end of February.
Governor Phil Murphy initially invested $40 million in the New Jersey Excluded Fund, then added another $10 million last month. But the administration also quietly reallocated $34 million from the fund at the end of December because it had not been spent and would have returned to the federal government.
Advocacy groups reacted angrily when they learned of the lapse last week.
“We are pleased to be able to extend the application period and provide this assistance to more New Jerseyans,” said Sarah Adelman, Acting Commissioner of Human Services. “We continue to urge eligible residents to apply for the program and hope that even more families will receive the help they need now that there is more funding, easier eligibility and more time to apply.”
Funding from the state’s share of US bailout funds will bring the program’s budget down to $40 million.
The announcement did not specify whether the $24 million expanded funding will involve a vote of the legislature, as appears to be required by the state budget for any federal COVID funds spending initiative exceeding $10 million. .
The Department of Social Services said last week the fund was on track to spend $17 million.
However, documentation rules that had complicated the process for some applicants have now been eliminated, under new federal rules released this month that allow states to make low-to-moderate income residents eligible for such assistance without having to to document a specific negative impact.
Under the new rules, people with an annual household income of $55,000 or less, who live in New Jersey, are over 18 and have been excluded from federal COVID stimulus payments and assistance- Pandemic unemployment can apply to the fund without additional documentation demonstrating COVID-related. implications.
The program is primarily for immigrants who are not legally in the country, but also applies to people returning from the justice system and anyone else otherwise excluded from pandemic-related financial assistance.
“The pandemic has posed challenges for New Jerseyans, but those previously excluded from federal assistance have not been able to get the help they need,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “By continuing to fund the New Jersey Excluded Fund and simplifying the application process, we are ensuring that more families who qualify for this program receive much-needed help.”
The benefit amount will continue to be $2,000 per eligible person and a maximum of $4,000 per household.
DHS said it will assess previously denied applications and contact those whose applications have expired to ensure they are aware of the program’s new criteria.
Michael Symons is the State House Bureau Chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].
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