Immigrant workers, most of whom are also essential workers, who were excluded from all federal and state COVID financial relief due to their documentation status, are now eligible to access one-time financial relief through New York State’s new Excluded Workers Fund (EWF). The EWF has earmarked $2.1 billion to go directly to such workers who were residents of New York prior to the onset of the pandemic, and can prove they lost work due to the pandemic.
The EWF, run by the NYS Department of Labor, comes after over a year of strategic advocacy by community organizations including the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) as well as many partner Workers’ Centers in Upstate New York.
Those potentially eligible for the EWF must complete a detailed application proving residency, loss of income due to COVID, and inability to benefit from other state or federal stimulus packages.
Community organizers who have long worked with the undocumented immigrant community are preparing to overcome the many challenges applicants may encounter while applying for the EWF including lack of support from employers and fear of submitting personal information to the government.
The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is available to provide free help to those eligible for the EWF in navigating the application process. If you or someone you know lives in the Southern Tier or Finger Lakes, you can reach out to the Tompkins County Workers Center at TCWRH@tcworkerscenter.org or 607-269-0409. The TCWC will be serving people eligible for EWF funding in the following counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins.
Gabriella Carr, Co-Manager of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center EWF program says: “COVID-19 shaped the world of so many people in the last year and a half. Immigrants without documentation have always been part of the lifeline of workers for many low wage industries and many families in NY were left vulnerable as COVID took away their means. TCWC is proud to be standing in solidarity with undocumented workers and recognize the profound impact this funding can provide to those in need. “
The application, available in 13 languages, can be found at ewf.labor.ny.gov. FAQs are available at dol.ny.gov/ewfapply. This resource includes details on qualification requirements, benefit amounts, and documents needed for applicants to verify identity, residency, and work history.
Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so those eligible are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. With applications now open, we are now working to ensure that our community members receive the economic relief that they deserve.