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Excluded NJ Fund, NJ Department of Human Services

Excluded NJ Fund removes COVID impact as eligibility requirement, expanding accessibility 

The Department of Human Services has removed COVID impact as an eligibility requirement for the Excluded NJ Fund and extends the application period to the end of February.

Last month, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann spoke to Elisa Neira, Deputy Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Human Services, about the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund. 

The ENJF program provides a one-time, direct cash benefit to eligible low-income households that were excluded from federal stimulus checks and pandemic-related unemployment assistance. This includes undocumented individuals, residents returning from the justice system and any other individuals otherwise excluded from pandemic-related financial help.

Since our conversation with Elisa, the potential payouts for the Excluded New Jerseyans cash-assistance program have reached the $40 million mark and the program will continue accepting applications through the previously announced February 28, 2022 application deadline. 

Sarah Adelman, Acting Commissioner (Photo source: nj.gov)

Acting Commissioner Adelman announced that Governor Phil Murphy will allocate American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to provide assistance to eligible applicants who apply by the end of the month.

The Governor allocated additional ARP funds last month to restore the program to $40 million so more eligible people could apply. The Department also removed COVID impact as an eligibility requirement following revised federal allowances, and extended the application period to the end of February.

“This fund provides a much needed financial boost to families who were previously excluded from federal assistance,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “By committing this additional funding, we are making sure eligible families can continue to apply through the end of the month, and that those whose applications are approved will receive their benefits.”

“We are grateful for the Governor’s continued support of this program which has already helped thousands of New Jerseyans who were left out of federal pandemic assistance,” said Acting Commissioner Adelman. “Interested individuals should check their eligibility and apply at ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov. For those who need help, free application assistance is available.”

The ENJF application period ends on February 28.  Applicants who submit an application but do not include required documents by the deadline will be able to provide additional documents to demonstrate eligibility after the deadline. The application is available in English and Spanish and online resources in multiple languages can be found on the website.

“The program is now accessible to even more New Jerseyans who were left out of other relief. We want to make sure the community is aware that there is still time to apply for the program.  And if you have already applied, we encourage you to check the status of your application online and follow the next steps to complete your application such as uploading eligibility documents,” said Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira

Watch the webcast: NJ Office of New Americans talks about the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund

The  one-time, direct cash benefit amounts are $2,000 per eligible individual and a maximum of $4,000 per household. Individuals with annual household incomes at or below $55,000, who live in New Jersey, are over 18 years of age and were excluded from federal COVID stimulus payments and pandemic unemployment assistance can apply to the ENJF without demonstrating COVID-related impacts. Proof of COVID impact is no longer required.

Image Source: NJ Office of New Americans.

Various Latinx organizations are applauding these changes that now make the fund accessible to more people, especially immigrant populations who have struggled to receive aid during the pandemic. 

“The Latino Action Network thanks Governor Murphy for simplifying the application for the Excluded New Jerseyans fund and ensuring that more people could take part in this critical program,” said Christian Estevez, President of the Latino Action Network. “By reaching $40 million, we have taken a big first step in addressing a long-standing, previously unmet need in the community. I look forward to the Department of Human Services and Murphy Administration keeping this program open through the end of the month so we can continue helping families and individuals in need. The Latino Action Network stands ready to work with the Governor and the legislature to find ways to continue helping those in need through the end of this month and beyond.”

“LUPE FUND commends Governor Murphy and his administration on allotting additional funds to the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund,” said Iveth Mosquera, LUPE Fund President. “This is an acknowledgment and step forward for all essential workers who have risked their lives during the pandemic, and continue to be the backbone of our communities. This is a true representation of working towards a stronger and fairer New Jersey.” 

“The work of DHS simplifying the application process is commendable and shows the great need for continued relief for immigrant workers. Still, we know that hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families will still need additional aid. We are committed to work alongside the Governor and the legislature to ensure no one in New Jersey is left behind. We cannot fully recover as a state until everyone has recovered,” said a statement from Latina Civic Action. 

For more information on the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund and to apply, visit: ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov

Office of New Americans, Elisa Neira,

Office of New Americans Elisa Neira speaks on NJ’s immigrant aid programs and initiatives 

Latinas in Business President and CEO Susana G Bauman recently spoke with Elisa Neira who serves as the Deputy Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Human Services as part of a new webcast series. 

As Deputy Commissioner, Elisa Neira oversees the Division of Family Development, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Division of Disability Services, and the Office of New Americans. 

Elisa discussed a few of the ways the New Jersey Department of Human Services is working to help immigrants in the state of New Jersey through resources, programs, and the formation of the Office New Americans (ONA). 

The ONA seeks to increase accessibility to State programs available to new Americans, including those who speak languages other than English, through outreach and education and serves as a resource for other state agencies to amplify education and outreach on state initiatives and programs.

Elisa Neira, Deputy Commissioner (Photo source)

“The governor tasked us to establish an Office of New Americans with the purpose of really identifying state solutions as to how immigrants can participate and benefit from the many resources in our state, how can we look at what barriers exist for people who may be who can benefit from some of the state resources but are not aware of them, or for whatever reason, may not understand eligibility, for example,” said Elisa.  

As a top gateway state receiving new immigrants every year, New Jersey is one of the most diverse states with a large multicultural population. About a quarter of New Jersey’s population of 10 million are foreign-born immigrants. The hopes are to reach this diverse population and aid them in attaining accessible government resources and services. 

“We have a very diverse population, which means that we’re diverse, culturally, and also linguistically. The language access needs in our state are really great.” 

Addressing these cultural and linguistic barriers is crucial to making resources and programs accessible. Many immigrants miss opportunities due to barriers and miscommunication. ONA hopes to improve access to social services, workforce development and employment services, and legal services for immigrants by addressing these barriers.

“We’ve done a lot of work in understanding the demographics and where the gaps are in getting information to people. One of our goals is really to look at language access and figure out how we can develop plans to really improve the communication that we have with residents of our state who are non-English speakers.”  

Listen to the whole conversation 

Excluded New Jerseyans Fund 

In her talk with Susana, Elisa spoke on one Department of Human Services program: the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund. This fund is a federally funded COVID relief program available to those who were excluded from federal COVID relief and are in households with incomes of $55,000 or less impacted by COVID-19.  

We were able to create this fund specifically for those individuals in our communities who, for several reasons, were not eligible for the federal stimulus checks that the many Americans were able to have during a time where maybe their income was reduced, or they lost income or became ill because of COVID,” said Elisa. 

Image Source: NJ Office of New Americans.

The program, which launched in late October, has been funded with a combination of Coronavirus Relief Funds, which expired on December 31, and American Rescue Plan funds, which continue to be available. The ARP funds allocated made it possible for the program to continue to accept applications after December 31. Currently, the program has available funds to fund eligible applications until January 31 adequately. Anyone who has applied for the ENJF and approved should know that they will receive their benefits. Benefit payments go out to approved applicants on a weekly basis.

The Department hired six community-based organizations (CBOs) to review applications, determine eligibility and provide program outreach, education, and support.  

The CBOs were tasked specifically with processing applications, which included following up with applicants needing more information to complete their applications and reach an eligibility determination. Documentation demonstrating COVID-impact was required because of specific federal parameters placed on the use of CRF funds. The Department provided training, materials, and resources for the reviewers under contract and met with them daily/weekly to support their application review process. 

Additionally, advocates for this program were integral to the design and administration of the program and their implementation recommendations were considered from the very beginning. Given the visibility of this program, several stakeholders and other service providers across the state of New Jersey have also done their own independent outreach and support for their clients even if they were not a part of the RFP process as they found it important to support members of their communities.  

“So many New Jerseyans, particularly undocumented individuals, were not eligible for these federal stimulus checks. They were also not eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance. So this fund is specifically to help those households, those families, those parents who were impacted by COVID, but did not receive these other federal aid that was available to other people. 

It’s a one time assistance between 1000 to $2,000. The applications are open. The information is available on our website ExcludedNJfund.nj.gov. And we’re really encouraging people who meet this criteria to put in an application so we can get them the help that they need.” 

Additional Exclude NJ resources: 

Exclude NJ flyers 

Application video tutorial in English and Spanish 

Required documents in English and Spanish 

Excluded NJ FAQs 

In a statement from Office of New Americans Director Johanna Calle clarified that DHS did not reallocate the remaining $34 million in CARES funding. Individuals are encouraged to refer to the Governor’s Office with additional questions regarding the remaining funds. Latinas in Business will follow up on this news. 

Excluded New Jerseyans Fund to provide pandemic-related financial aid to undocumented individuals (read in English and Spanish) 

Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman announced that applications for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund (ENJF) cash assistance program are now open to eligible individuals who want to apply for the financial benefit.

The $40 million ENJF program will provide a one-time, direct cash benefit to eligible households that suffered an economic hardship due to COVID-19 and were excluded from for federal stimulus checks and COVID-19 related unemployment assistance.           

This includes undocumented individuals, residents returning from the justice system, and any other individuals otherwise excluded from pandemic-related financial help.

Households with annual incomes of up to $55,000 with a documented hardship or lost income due to COVID-19 can apply for this assistance. Eligible applicants will receive a benefit of up to $1,000 per eligible individual and a max of $2,000 per household.

Eligible individuals can go to ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov .

Sarah Adelman, Acting Commissioner (Photo source)

Applications will be processed in the order they are received and until funds are exhausted.

The ENJF program is run by the Department’s Office of New Americans (ONA).

“Eligible individuals can now apply for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund and start the process to get this critical assistance,” Acting Commissioner Adelman said. “If you did not receive federal stimulus checks and pandemic unemployment assistance, you may be eligible. If you were impacted by COVID and struggled to pay for basic needs including housing, you may be eligible. Visit our website, find out if you are eligible and apply today.”

“We are glad we can extend this assistance to individuals who need it,” Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “Eligibility requirements are on the ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov website. If you know you qualify, the sooner you apply the better. We continue to encourage potential applicants to check if they are eligible and apply.” 

New Jersey is the seventh state to take this type of initiative, following California, Colorado, Washington, New York, New Mexico, and Oregon. It is expected that anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people will participate in this program. 

The state of New Jersey is committed to helping all families rebuild post-pandemic, included undocumented individuals and others who did not previously receive pandemic benefits. 

“The Excluded New Jerseyans Fund builds on Governor Murphy’s commitment to create an economy that works for all New Jerseyans. COVID-19 impacted many New Jersey families but not all were able to receive federal COVID assistance and relief. This fund can help make up for that,” said Deputy Commissioner Neira. “We know that many families impacted by COVID-19 continue to need support. We encourage residents who think they may qualify for this one-time cash assistance program to check their eligibility and apply at ExcludedNJFund.NJ.gov

How to Apply

Applicants will have to submit supporting documents demonstrating:

  • Exclusion from federal COVID-19 stimulus checks and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance;
  • Annual household income;
  • Identification and residency; and
  • Financial hardship due to COVID-19 caused by lost income due to reduced hours/lay off, inability to work due to isolation/quarantine, or due to their child’s remote school learning schedule, illness and/or death due to COVID-19, or inability to pay bills due to loss of income.

Applicants will be able to submit their documents online through a document upload service where they can upload PDFs, screenshots, or images of the supporting documents. Applicants are encouraged to upload all or as many of the required documents as this will help their application move through the approval process faster.

While supporting documents such as proof of identity and eligibility will be requested as part of the application process, applicants will not be asked to submit data related to their place of birth, citizenship or immigration status.

Applications for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund (ENJF) are now open. (Image via Instagram)

For a list of documents that may be used to prove eligibility, visit here.

Individuals will have to confirm their eligibility before they are able to start the application process. Eligibility requirements for the program may be found here.

Free application assistance is available. For a list of community organizations who can help with filling out the application and answer questions, visit here.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Eligible applicants can expect to receive their benefit within 2-3 weeks after being notified that they are eligible.

“This assistance will be available until funds run out so we urge individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for these benefits and who can provide the required documentation to apply soon starting today,” said ONA Director Johanna Calle.

You might be interested: Affordable, quality child care is top priority for NJ working families, says Commissioner Sarah Adelman 

En Español 

La comisionada interina de Servicios Humanos, Sarah Adelman, anunció que las solicitudes para el Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos (ENJF, por sus siglas en inglés) ya están abiertas para las personas elegibles que quieran solicitar el beneficio financiero. 

El programa ENJF, dotado con $40 millones de dólares, proporcionará un beneficio directo en efectivo, de una sola vez, a los hogares que reúnan los requisitos necesarios y que hayan sufrido dificultades económicas debido a COVID-19, que hayan sido excluidos de los cheques de estímulo federal y de la ayuda al desempleo relacionada con COVID-19.          

Esto incluye a las personas indocumentadas, a los residentes que regresan del sistema judicial y a cualquier otra persona excluida de la ayuda financiera relacionada con la pandemia.

Los hogares con ingresos anuales de hasta $55.000 con una dificultad documentada o pérdida de ingresos debido a COVID-19 pueden solicitar esta ayuda. Los solicitantes elegibles recibirán un beneficio de hasta $1.000 por individuo elegible y un máximo de $2.000 por hogar. 

Los individuos elegibles pueden ir a la página ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov.

Las solicitudes se procesarán por orden de llegada y hasta que los fondos se agoten.

El programa ENJF es administrado por la Oficina de Nuevos Americanos (ONA, por sus siglas en inglés) del Departamento.

Elisa Neira, Deputy Commissioner (Photo source)

“Las personas elegibles ya pueden solicitar el Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos (ENJF, por sus siglas en inglés) y comenzar el proceso para obtener esta asistencia crítica”, dijo la comisionada interina Adelman. “Si usted no recibió los cheques de estímulo federal y la asistencia de desempleo por pandemia, usted puede ser elegible. Si se vio afectado por COVID y tuvo dificultades para pagar las necesidades básicas, incluida la vivienda, usted puede ser elegible. Visite nuestra página web, averigüe si es elegible y solicite hoy mismo”.

“Estamos contentos de poder extender esta asistencia a las personas que lo necesiten”, dijo la Vicecomisionada Elisa Neira. “Los requisitos de elegibilidad están en la página web ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov. Si usted sabe que califica, cuanto antes lo solicite, mejor. Seguimos animando a los posibles solicitantes a que comprueben si son elegibles y presenten su solicitud.”

Nueva Jersey es el séptimo estado en tomar este tipo de iniciativas, después de California, Colorado, Washington, Nueva York, Nuevo México y Oregón. Se espera que entre 20.000 y 40.000 personas participen en este programa.

El estado de Nueva Jersey se compromete a ayudar a todas las familias a reconstruir después de la pandemia, incluidas las personas indocumentadas y otras que no habían recibido previamente los beneficios de la pandemia.

“El Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos se basa en el compromiso del gobernador Murphy de crear una economía que funcione para todos los habitantes de Nueva Jersey. El COVID-19 afectó a muchas familias de Nueva Jersey, pero no todas pudieron recibir asistencia y alivio de COVID federal. Este fondo puede ayudar a compensar eso ”, dijo el Comisionado Adjunto Neira. “Sabemos que muchas familias afectadas por COVID-19 continúan necesitando apoyo. Alentamos a los residentes que piensan que pueden calificar para este programa de asistencia en efectivo por única vez a que verifiquen su elegibilidad y presenten una solicitud en ExcludedNJFund.NJ.gov ”.

Cómo Aplicar

Los solicitantes tendrán que presentar documentos justificativos que demuestren:

  •         Exclusión de los cheques federales de estímulo COVID-19 y de la asistencia de desempleo por pandemia;
  •         Ingresos anuales del hogar; 
  •         Identificación y que vive en NJ; y
  •         Dificultades financieras debidas a COVID-19 causadas por la pérdida de ingresos debido a la reducción de horas/descanso, la incapacidad para trabajar debido al aislamiento/cuarentena, o debido al horario de aprendizaje escolar a distancia de sus hijos, la enfermedad y/o la muerte debida a COVID-19, o la incapacidad para pagar las facturas debido a la pérdida de ingresos.

Los solicitantes podrán presentar sus documentos en línea a través de un servicio de carga de documentos en el que podrán cargar archivos PDF, capturas de pantalla o imágenes de los documentos justificativos. Se anima a los solicitantes a que suban todos los documentos requeridos, o los más que puedan, ya que esto ayudará a que su solicitud avance más rápido en el proceso de aprobación.

Aunque se pedirán documentos justificativos, como la prueba de identidad y la elegibilidad, como parte del proceso de solicitud, no se pedirá a los solicitantes que presenten datos relacionados con su lugar de nacimiento, ciudadanía o estatus migratorio. 

Las solicitudes para el Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos ya están abiertas. (Imagen vía Instagram)

Para ver una lista de documentos que se pueden utilizar para demostrar la elegibilidad, visite aquí.

Las personas tendrán que confirmar su elegibilidad antes de poder iniciar el proceso de solicitud. Los requisitos de elegibilidad para el programa se pueden encontrar aquí.

Hay asistencia gratuita para la solicitud. Para ver una lista de organizaciones comunitarias que pueden ayudar a completar la solicitud y responder preguntas, visite aquí.

Las solicitudes se revisarán por orden de llegada. El tiempo de espera para recibir los beneficios es de 2 a 3 semanas después de que los solicitantes hayan sido notificados que son elegibles.

“Esta ayuda estará disponible hasta que los fondos se agoten, por lo que recomendamos a las personas que reúnan los requisitos para recibir estos beneficios y que puedan aportar la documentación requerida a que presenten su solicitud comenzando hoy”, dijo la directora de la ONA, Johanna Calle.