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Applications being accepted for $26.6 million pandemic fund for first responders & essential workers


Mon, Apr 19th 2021 01:15 pm

Thousands of essential workers and first responders with urgent economic needs amidst ongoing COVID-19 pandemic express interest in grants; up to $1,000 available per household from funding made possible through private donations

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced applications are being accepted for the $26.6 million available to support essential workers and first responders through the Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund.

The program, coordinated by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, is designed to reimburse out-of-pocket child or dependent care, transportation, lodging and other qualifying expenses that eligible workers incurred while employed in New York between March 1, 2020, through the date of application submission.

Up to $1,000 is available per household. The funding comes from private donations from individuals, charitable trusts and businesses made during the COVID crisis.

"From day one of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York's essential workers and first responders did their jobs so the rest of us could stay safe. Their brave and selfless service to New Yorkers will never be forgotten, and we must ensure we support them in the midst of unique transportation, lodging and child care challenges," Cuomo said. "The Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund will reimburse essential workers for important living expenses they've incurred while keeping the rest of us safe, and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to apply for funding now."

Qualifying applicants include first responders, health care workers and many multi-industry essential workers. Eligible workers can apply on their own or be referred to the application by employers, unions or social service providers who employed them during the COVID -19 emergency. Families who earn up to 500% of the federal poverty level – or $125,470 for a family of four – are eligible to apply for the funds to cover expenses.

OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "We at OCFS are proud and honored to assist our first-responder and essential-worker neighbors by getting relief to those who honorably and tirelessly responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of essential workers have expressed interest in the funding, and we are pleased to coordinate this grant program for these worthy employees. They have saved so many lives throughout the pandemic."

The Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund is a non-competitive application. Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria and who submit the required income documentation and had eligible expenses will be awarded up to $1,000 to reimburse out-of-pocket costs incurred while responding to COVID-19 that have not been reimbursed by another source. Awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. The maximum reimbursement amount is $1,000 per household. Applications and grant opportunity instructions are available HERE.

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