The Fund Excluded Workers Coalition invites all to celebrate the launch at Maria Hernandez Park this Saturday, August 14. 

This call for celebration of the New York State $1.2 billion Excluded Workers Fund comes after a year of rallies, demonstrations and a 23-day hunger strike. The funds will aid essential workers, many of them undocumented immigrants and individuals recently released from prison, that were barred from Federal Stimulus and Unemployment Insurance benefits. 

Beginning this month, workers can apply for such benefits of up to $15,600, which is the equivalent total of $300 weekly payments during the year of April 2020 to April 2021 (Tier 1) or up to $3,200 which is the equivalent of three federal stimulus checks (Tier 2). 

However, the FEW Coalition and members of Make the Road New York have voiced their concerns over the regulations to determine relief eligibility set in place by the Department of Labor according to this The Indypendent article covering a July 12 rally at the department’s office on Varick Street in Manhattan. 

The Excluded Workers Fund application, which will be distributed on a “first come, first served basis,” requires proof of identity, but the FEW Coalition says that the “DMV, IDNYC, the IRS and foreign consulates — offices that excluded workers will need to visit in order to obtain proof of identity — have low appointment availability and are experiencing backlogs.”

Other requirements include a letter from an employer to maximize benefits and evidence that shows that the applicant has lost 50 percent of their income. Undocumented street vendors and self-employed workers can write the letter themselves. 

“As it is now, not all of the community could put together an application,” Soñia Peréz, member of the FEW Coalition, told The Indypendent at the rally. 

In a statement made in response to criticism regarding the regulations, a spokesperson for the Department of Labor asserted that this “historic fund upholds the principles of equality and fairness that the DOL continues to work to ensure for all New Yorkers.” 

As part of the Excluded Workers Outreach and Assistance Grant of up to $10 million, among other initiatives, the Department of Labor is “seeking qualified Not-For-Profit (NFP) organizations” to aid undocumented workers with the Excluded Workers Fund.

According to Make the Road, workers who do not have access to the technology needed for the online-only application or the time to come to their organization will lack necessary direct assistance. 

However, The Excluded Workers Fund Launch Fair at Maria Hernandez Park will create an opportunity for those applying for the fund to get assistance.

The day’s activities will kick off with a rally and march at 12:30 pm. After, from 1:30 pm to 5 pm, there will be workshops on how to prepare and submit documents culminating in an outreach event. During that time, there will also be kids activities. The launch fair will then end with a dance party, so all you need to bring is yourself, some friends, and a comfortable pair of shoes! 

You can find Excluded Workers Fund and Rent Relief Resources provided by Make the Road New York here that detail the exact requirements for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 benefits. For more information on regulations and how to find local assistance, you can visit the Department of Labor page here.

Images from Make the Road New York.

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