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Essential workers deserve COVID relief funds

New Jersey residents received more than $10 billion in stimulus COVID relief payments, in three installments. Unfortunately, some essential workers did not have the luxury of working from home or collecting a stimulus check.

Many of these essential workers are undocumented and have lived in New Jersey for decades. Many of these workers became ill from COVID and many died, but there was no relief money for them.

After an 18-month campaign, Recovery for All was passed in May 2021 and the Excluded Workers Fund was set up. Applications were open to the public in late October.

Unfortunately, the application process was so onerous that no one could apply without help. Please remember these are people who do not own cars, homes or computers. Most do not have bank accounts. Many speak no English, some are illiterate.

These workers owe hospital bills, funeral bills, rent and utility bills, and have not received any assistance. To them, hearing that a fund was set up for them with a payment of $2,000 was a godsend.

We soon began hearing of many rejected applications and a very low approval rate. Then it was announced the state is taking back 85% of the money because it is not “needed.” The money will be redirected to administrative costs for New Jersey’s budget.

I can assure the state this money is desperately needed by workers who lost their jobs, families that lost a father or mother, and the many essential workers who worked throughout the pandemic with no relief.

Shame on Gov. Phil Murphy for offering help to this struggling community, only to take it away.

Kate Vallee
President
Casa Freehold
Freehold Borough

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