Applications now open for $26.6 million first responder pandemic grants


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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Applications are now open for the Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund, which is designed to support first responders affected by the pandemic. Eligible first responders can apply to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, including child or dependent care, transportation, lodging, and other qualifying expenses.

Each household can claim up to $1,000 for qualifying expenses they incurred while working in New York State between March 1, 2020, through the date of application submission.

In a statement, Gov. Cuomo encouraged all eligible New Yorkers to apply for the funding immediately:

“From day one of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s essential workers and first responders did their jobs so the rest of us could stay safe. Their brave and selfless service to New Yorkers will never be forgotten and we must ensure we support them in the midst of unique transportation, lodging and child care challenges.

The Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund will reimburse essential workers for important living expenses they’ve incurred while keeping the rest of us safe, and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to apply for funding now.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Qualifying applicants include first responders, health care workers, and many multi-industry essential workers. Applicants must also have a household income of under five times the federal poverty level, which is up to $125,470 for a family of four.

Those who are eligible for the grant can apply themselves, or be referred by employers, unions, or social service providers who employed them during the COVID emergency.

The application requires proof of income from 2019 and 2020, along with expense documentation. Only one application can be made per household. If a household contains multiple eligible people, their documentation must be filed with the same form. There are exceptions for family members who are not dependents and spouses who file their taxes separately. More details can be found online.

Funding for the grant was provided by a combination of private donations from individuals, charitable trusts, and businesses.

When it was announced in March, the total fund was $29 million. Governor Cuomo’s office says the $2.4 million difference has went towards administrative costs. These administrative costs include building the online application in both English and Spanish and review of the applications submitted. Governor Cuomo’s office says 30,000 people have already expressed an interest in applying for the grant, and the administrative work involved is expected to be extensive.

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