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Mayor de Blasio Announces New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program with Open Society Foundations

April 16, 2020

$20 million fund will reach 20,000 immigrant workers and their families with direct, one-time emergency relief

NEW YORK— Mayor de Blasio today announced a partnership with Open Society Foundations to establish the New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief program, reaffirming the City’s commitment to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, are included in citywide COVID-19 response and relief efforts. This $20 million donation marks an essential step to provide emergency monetary relief to immigrant workers and their families, who have largely been excluded from federal COVID-19 relief programs.

“Immigrants are the heart of this City – they are our friends, neighbors and colleagues,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This crisis has shown it is now more important than ever for New Yorkers to look out for each other. I want to thank the Open Society Foundations for partnering with us to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their documentation status, can get the support they need.”

“COVID-19 does not discriminate, but for immigrants, often working on the frontline of this crisis, it is a hardship multiplier for them and their families. We must make sure that everyone in our city, regardless of immigration status, has access to the support they need," said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Immigrant New Yorkers are our neighbors, loved ones, and community members. We value and depend on them, and we want them to know that their City will not leave them behind.”

"New York City is the epicenter of the COVID-19, with more cases and casualties than most whole countries. This crisis has laid bare just how much we depend on low-wage workers who stock our grocery shelves, harvest and deliver our food, staff society's essential services. These essential workers are also the people with the least access to services and benefits, many of them beyond the reach of the government's stimulus package. The Open Society Foundations is proud to support NYC and its partner organizations, including National Domestic Workers Alliance, to provide direct relief to these workers, who are literally holding up our society right now, and hope that policymakers going forward will address the structural inequalities they live with every day," said Patrick Gaspard, President of the Open Society Foundations.

The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will create a citywide network of community based organizations that will provide direct, one-time emergency relief payments to immigrant families – including undocumented workers – who play a vital role in the City’s workforce and economy.

This initial funding will reach up to 20,000 undocumented workers and their families affected by COVID-19 related job loss and facing financial distress. The citywide network of community based organizations and worker centers will disseminate one-time emergency relief payments to eligible New Yorkers in the following amounts:

  • $400/individual
  • $800 for couple or single parent with children
  • $1,000 for family with multiple adults and children
  • And/or where identified increased additional supports.

This network of community partners will also connect and assist individuals with information or enrollment for other forms of relief and resources such as unemployment, SNAP, cash assistance, or emergency food delivery programs they may be eligible for on a case by case basis and more.

New York City is home to 3.1 million immigrants who comprise about 37 percent of the City’s population and 44 percent of its workforce– including approximately 360,000 undocumented workers and 48,000 undocumented business owners. In 2019, foreign-born New Yorkers, including the undocumented population, contributed about $232 billion to the City’s GDP. Among the one million essential workers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic—delivery workers, EMS staff, drivers, health care personnel, and more—half are immigrants.

Undocumented workers and their families—approximately 738,000 New Yorkers, including 218,000 children—remain particularly vulnerable at this time. Over a third of NYC’s undocumented workforce are low income, are ineligible for most safety net assistance, and have been left behind by federal stimulus packages because of their documentation status.

The Open Society Foundations will also provide a $15 million donation to the Fund for Public Schools’ (The Fund) NYC Schools COVID-19 Response Effort to support New York City Department of Education's (DOE) school communities during this challenging timeThis is the largest gift The Fund and DOE have received to date in response to COVID-19 and will support emergency childcare and the remote learning of young and school-age children of essential workers on the frontlines, ranging from medical and emergency personnel to transit workers. 

"This Administration has always worked to ensure equity and inclusion is at  the forefront of everything we do, and why we will not stand idly by as our immigrant communities continue to be cut out of federal support despite being disproportionally impacted by this pandemic," said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policy Initiatives. "Our partnership with Open Society will do what the federal government has failed to do—acknowledge and support the immigrant New Yorkers who are the backbone of our City." 

“Immigrant communities, including undocumented families, have been gravely and disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, but left out of federal stimulus relief. There can be no serious effort to address this moment and this tremendous gap in equity without connecting our fellow New Yorkers to the care and resources they need, regardless of their immigration status,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “We are grateful to the Open Society Foundations for this partnership—a critical part of our efforts to support and empower immigrant families who need it most. We hope to build on the Immigrant Emergency Relief Fund Program in New York City and we urge our state and federal counterparts to follow suit and ensure that some of the country’s most essential, and most vulnerable, communities are protected.”

“Throughout this crisis, we’ve spared no effort to ensure our students and families feel safe and supported by their schools and by their city, and we’re so grateful for this generous gift. With the support of the Open Society Foundations and the Fund for Public Schools, we can continue to enhance remote learning efforts for 1.1 million children and provide emergency childcare for essential workers—services New Yorkers need in the difficult months to come,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

“As the impacts of COVID-19 ripple throughout our city, it is our duty as a community to ensure that no one gets left behind, especially our immigrant neighbors who are an integral piece of the fabric of New York City," said Toya Williford, Executive Director of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. "When philanthropy comes together with local government and community-based organizations, our ability to help the most vulnerable among us is unparalleled. We are deeply grateful for OSF's commitment to New York City's immigrant communities.”

“Our ability to recover and heal as a community from the impacts of COVID-19 relies on the strength of our partnerships," said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor for COVID Relief. “I want to thank the Open Society Foundation for working with us to prioritize the most vulnerable New Yorkers--the members of our immigrant communities—so they have the support they need to provide for themselves and their families. And this work could not be accomplished without the support of New York City’s non-profit community and I want to thank them for putting themselves on the front-line of this crisis.”

As our City's front-line workers do lifesaving work, they deserve quality care and continued learning for their children. This public-private partnership with Open Society Foundations will help us to do exactly that and to keep enhancing remote learning for our 1.1 million students," said Julie L. Shapiro, Chief Executive Officer of the Fund for Public Schools. "We could not be more grateful for this monumental gift, which will strengthen our school communities during such a critical time.

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