More than $850M in Excluded Workers Fund benefits allocated; payments are ahead of schedule, according to Hochul

Governor Hochul announced last week that $250 million of the $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) have already been released. An additional $600 million has been approved as of September 3. The fund provides up to $15,600 in direct cash assistance to workers shut-out of traditional state unemployment and federal COVID relief programs. Speaking to the Governor’s press office, TCWC Coordinator Pete Meyers, said “[the] payments from the Excluded Workers Fund are providing vital financial relief to workers who drive economic growth in communities across the state. This is the right thing to do for those New Yorkers who have contributed so much to our state, but couldn’t receive benefits when they lost work during the pandemic.”

Undoubtedly, this historic legislation provides a vital lifeline to some of the hardest-hit workers ravaged by the pandemic. Still, the rapid pace of distribution begs the question – what will remain for undocumented farmworkers and immigrant families outside of the NY metropolitan area?

While most unauthorized New Yorkers live within the five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island, some 27,360, 8% of the undocumented population, live and work in Upstate New York [Padilla & Hall, June 2021; CMS, April 2021]. The majority of these workers are Latinx. Many work on our farms and live in ethnic enclaves within Buffalo, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Rochester. However, these small pockets are a far cry from the densely populated immigrant communities in Queens and the Bronx. Moreover, according to Padilla & Hall, undocumented workers living outside of the NY metropolitan area are likely to be disconnected from fellow ethnics and isolated from resources, all of which further compound their disadvantage.

According to Governor Hochel’s September 3 press release, the top ten counties with approved applications are Queens – 30%; Kings – 17%; Bronx – 15%; New York – 7%; Nassau – 4%; Westchester – 4%; Suffolk – 4%; Richmond – 2%; Erie – 1%; Monroe – 1%.

Community-based organizations across Central New York are working to bridge the gap. Groups like the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC), Midstate Council for Occupational Health and Safety (Midstate COSH), and the NY Immigrant Coalition are committed to connecting undocumented workers in Central New York with the funding before it is too late. TCWC and Midstate COSH are providing application assistance through an NYS Department of Labor grant. If you or someone you know may be eligible, please submit a contact form on our website or send us a message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to submit your application today.

Community-based organizations across Central New York are working to bridge the gap. Groups like the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC), Midstate Council for Occupational Health and Safety (Midstate COSH), and the Workers Center of CNY are committed to connecting undocumented workers in Central New York with the funding before it is too late. TCWC and Midstate COSH are providing application assistance through an NYS Department of Labor grant. If you or someone you know may be eligible, please submit a contact form on our website or send us a message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to submit your application today.