After a year-long campaign which culminated in a 23-day hunger strike, excluded workers from across Queens including street vendors, construction workers, laundry and delivery workers, among others who were left out of state and federal COVID relief. are now eligible for retroactive payments to reflect an entire year without work during the pandemic.
Lawmakers approved the first-in-the-nation $2.1 billion excluded workers fund as part of the state budget agreement last week.
“This fight, this win, is a win for all of the working people. For all of my people who have struggled to survive through this last year, who have organized through loss, through fear, through hunger to demand New York State recognize and support us,I am so proud to have been a part of this amazing group of leaders, of immigrant women, of mothers who’ve fought for change,” hunger striker Eliana Jaramillo said. “With this fund, I can finally pay the debts I owe for the death of my two siblings from COVID. I can honor their lives in a dignified way. And I will keep fighting with my whole body for the rights for all workers, for street vendors, for our state to know that we are here and we are essential, and to never exclude us again.”
In Queens, about 83,000 undocumented immigrants will qualify for the benefit, with about 28,000 getting Tier 1 assistance up to $15,600 and nearly 57,000 getting Tier 2 assistance of $3,200, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. The anticipated economic boost for Queens is estimated to be around $585 million. In addition, the state also approved $2.4 billion for rent relief.
Make the Road New York, the Jackson-Heights based immigrant rights organization is launching new bilingual websites to help users navigate the new resources by providing accurate, updated information to community members about these programs.
“As we celebrate these historic victories for our communities, we are also pivoting quickly to ensure swift and strong implementation and make certain that community members have access to all the most updated information about these programs,” Make the Road New York Co-Executive Director Theo Oshiro said. “While we await further details about the application process for both excluded workers and tenants, we encourage people to visit our website and sign up for the updates. We will continue to provide reliable, accessible, and bilingual information to help people get ready to apply once the programs are open.”