TRENTON, N.J. – Undocumented residents and recently released criminals will get up to $2,000 in pandemic relief funds under a Department of Human Services program announced Wednesday.
Sympathetically dubbed “Excluded New Jerseyans Fund,” this $40 million taxpayer-funded kitty will give payments to eligible persons – “undocumented individuals, residents re-entering from the justice system, and any other individuals otherwise excluded” – who did not qualify for federal stimulus checks and pandemic unemployment assistance.
“There’s a good reason they didn’t qualify for that assistance. Only Democrats would put criminals above citizens whom their draconian, unscientific policies have harmed for the last 21 months,” Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex) said. “This president and this governor are lockstep in showing they just don’t care about the average, law-abiding American, many of whom are still struggling and may never fully recover.”
The program will offer one-time cash benefits to households with annual incomes of up to $55,000. Individuals will receive up to $1,000, with a maximum of $2,000 per household.
Applicants must show they did not qualify for other relief programs, and provide annual household income information, proof of identification and residency, and proof of financial hardship related to Covid-19 government restrictions and policies. Documentation must be uploaded online with an expected approval turnaround of 2-3 weeks.
Relief money will be awarded until the funds run out.
“In an irony only lost on typical government bureaucrats, they are going to accept documentation from undocumented residents and felons to prove eligibility for a program whose money would be better spent on helping hardworking citizens who lost jobs and businesses, who burned through savings and credit cards, to stay afloat during Governor Murphy’s lockdowns,” Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Sussex) said.
In the meantime, the federal supplemental unemployment insurance expired back in September. Many residents who are still having problems with their unemployment benefits cannot get face-to-face help. The Department of Labor said one-stop career centers will not be open until 2022.