$29M in grants available for NY first responders, essential workers

First responders and essential workers can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket pandemic-related expenses

ny grants for first responders essential workers reimbursement expenses

The state of New York is offering $29 million in grants for first responders and other essential workers.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

By Laura French

ALBANY, N.Y. — The state of New York is offering $29 million in grants to first responders and essential workers to help with out-of-pocket expenses during the pandemic.

The Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund program will provide up to $1,000 per household to reimburse individuals and families for out-of-pocket transportation, lodging, childcare and other expenses incurred to perform one’s work duties, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

“From the early, dark days of this pandemic, our essential workers have been on the front lines risking their health and safety every day to keep this state running,” Cuomo said in a statement. “They took care of us and it is now time for us to take care of them. This grant program will provide critical funding to those individuals and families still struggling from the pandemic and help them get back on their feet as we continue our transition to a new normal.”

Applicants should be referred by employers, unions or social service providers who can verify their employment during the COVID-19 emergency, and families who earn up to 500% of the federal poverty level - or $125,470 for a family of four - are eligible to apply.

The grant program is coordinated by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and funded through private donations from individuals, businesses and charitable trusts.

“We at OCFS are proud and honored to assist our first responder and essential worker neighbors by getting relief to those who honorably and tirelessly respond to the COVID-19 crisis. All New Yorkers owe a debt of gratitude to these everyday heroes who bravely served so others could stay safely at home and to the health care workers who courageously saved so many lives,” said OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole, in a statement.