Advocates in support of a fund that provides aid to workers who were not included in several rounds of federal stimulus payments during the COVID-19 pandemic will call for changes to the application process.
At the same time, advocates are expected to call for more funding next year in the state budget for the program. The money became available in August for qualifying households following a year-long advocacy effort and contentious negotiations with state lawmakers that spilled into public view.
Known as the Excluded Workers Fund, the $2.1 billion pot of money was approved earlier this year as a way of aiding workers like undocumented immigrants who did not qualify for direct federal aid approved by Congress in order to boost households amid the pandemic-induced recession.
The coalition Fund Excluded Workers later on Thursday will call for changes in front of Gov. Kathy Hochul's Manhattan office with a focus on how qualifying people can apply for aid. Hochul, who took office last month as governor, had listed access to the fund a key priority for her new administration.
The state Department of Labor has approved hundreds of millions of dollars since the fund went into effect. But advocates are concerned obstacles remain for applicants, including the speed of fund distribution, the high demand for assistance in applying for aid and the limited support for workers who are applying for aid in languages other than English and Spanish.