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Governor Kathy Hochul announced a $ 27 million relief fund for excluded workers after Hurricane Ida killed 13 people and destroyed many homes in Queens.
This relief comes in an effort to reach many immigrant families who were ineligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding unless there was a documented child in the family.
â€œI realized that these people were hoping for us to help them rebuild their lives and we had to say, ‘Sorry, you are not qualified’? No, â€said Hochul. â€œWe are at war with Mother Nature and we don’t leave anyone on the battlefield. We find a way to help them regain some semblance of their former life and tell them that we care for them, believe in them, and love them. “
Applications opened on September 27, with up to $ 72,000 for New Yorkers.
â€œThat is powerful. So we’re starting to let people in New York state know that they matter, â€said Hochul.
In order to provide the funds as quickly as possible, the state works with local non-profit organizations. There will be two locations in Queens where people can seek help: MinKwon Center for Community Action at 133-29 41st Ave. Suite 202 at Flushing and Make the Road at 92-10 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights.
This program attracted funding from both the city and the state: $ 20 million from state emergency funds and $ 7 million from the City of New York.
Hochul met with many local representatives at the Queens Museum today to announce the new program. The Queens representatives thanked Hochul for having led with compassion, unlike previous governments.
Congresswoman Grace Meng said she went to funerals and watched her constituents struggle to regain what was lost during the storm.
“The destruction Ida wreaked here in Queens was devastating,” Meng said. â€œThe federal government, the previous government, was not compassionate and did not provide the necessary assistance. Our government must be there for everyone, regardless of their immigration status. “
Congregation member Catalina Cruz thanked the governor for supporting New Yorkers and showing concern that they cannot even vote for them.
“What you are doing today is changing the lives of people who cannot go to the booth, and that is commendable,” said Cruz.
Cruz added how daunting it was when she called FEMA and heard that there was no help for many of her constituents, nearly 40% of whom are undocumented immigrants.
Cruz invited one of her constituents to speak about her experience during the storm. The woman worked as a housewife for 20 years and paid her taxes.
â€œThe apartment is uninhabitable and I had to leave,â€ Cruz translated for the woman, who told her story in Spanish. â€œThank you, Governor, for doing something for us. I’ve paid my taxes all these years. God is good.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards also thanked the Governor for her help as his district continues to be hit by toughest crises after another.
“These are people who are just coming out of the pandemic, trying to get their lives back on track, and then getting knocked down during this storm that really affected communities,” said Richards.
The county president shared his experience representing the Rockaways as a councilor after Hurricane Sandy, where he said it took government officials nearly two months to visit his community.
â€œWe had boots on the ground within the first week [after Ida]and that is based on our governor’s leadership, â€said Richards. “What sets Sandy apart from this crisis is that we actually have leadership that has strengthened.”
This fund follows another aid program for excluded workers, the $ 2.1 billion for undocumented immigrants to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were not entitled to collect federal unemployment benefit or economic checks.
Hochul closed the announcement by saying that there is still much to be done, but hopes this will correct the wrongs of the past.
“I think we’ve changed people’s hearts and minds about what a New York state church looks like,” said Hochul.