Posted on September 29, 2021

New York Pledges $27 Million to Help Undocumented Immigrants Hit by Ida

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura and Precious Fondren, New York Times, September 27, 2021

When the storm finally died down, In Soon Kim was left with nothing but the dress she was wearing.


{snip} Ms. Kim had been excluded from receiving federal relief because she is undocumented and was panicking because she didn’t have a lot of savings, she said.

But that changed on Monday when Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced $27 million in aid for undocumented survivors of the floods like Ms. Kim, who are not eligible to receive storm recovery relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


New York State will contribute $20 million to the special relief fund while New York City will provide $7 million, Ms. Hochul said.

Fewer than 1,200 households are expected to access that aid, a figure Ms. Hochul said was based on the number of homes that had been affected by the storm. Applicants are eligible to receive up to $72,000 for housing and other needs. They have until Nov. 26 to apply for the funds via a number of local nonprofit organizations that assist immigrants, including MinKwon, Make the Road New York, Catholic Charities Community Services and the Chinese-American Planning Council.

But representatives from most of the organizations said that details about the relief package remain unclear. They also said that the number of eligible applicants is likely to be higher than 1,200, given that there are an estimated 500,000 undocumented workers in New York City.

Still, Theo Oshiro, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, praised the initiative.

“These communities went through the worst of the pandemic, and now they’ve been hit by a storm. What we’re seeing is some recognition of the plight of these New Yorkers, but there is so much to do,” Mr. Oshiro said.

Gov. Hochul also said that given many lost their paperwork in the flooding, “not a lot” of documentation was required to apply for relief — just a letter from a landlord or a utility bill showing that applicants lived in a property hit by the storm. “It’s not going to be that hard, but the difference will be you do not have to prove citizenship to get this help.”


Ms. Kim and several survivors said they want to use some of the relief money to move out of their basement apartments.