Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has filed an ordinance in the Nassau County Legislature appropriating $100 million provided to the County under the American Rescue Plan Act for one-time cash assistance of $375 to qualifying households (renters and homeowners, including residents living in cooperatives) that have experienced negative economic impacts due to the pandemic. The County Executive’s plan (“Nassau County Household Assistance Program or HAP”) will extend much-needed relief to up to 400,000 qualifying households as they recover from the often-devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we continue to recover from the pandemic, Nassau County is committed to delivering relief for our residents and businesses. Having achieved a hard-earned budget surplus, the County will utilize funding from the American Rescue Plan to provide cash relief to up to 400,000 households. I believe this assistance will not only help those who continue to struggle, but also provide a boost to our local economy,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
“I worked tirelessly to secure billions in aid in the American Rescue Plan for New York and its localities – including over $385 million for Nassau County – and I’m glad that County Executive Curran has created a Household Assistance Program to put some of these funds back in the pockets of Nassau County residents who have experienced hardship throughout the pandemic,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer.
“Congress authorized funding in the American Rescue Plan for localities to assist residents that have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. “The County’s Household Assistance Program will put this money directly into the pockets of Nassau’s renters and homeowners, helping families pay their bills and boosting our local economy.”
The Household Assistance Program has been crafted following the Interim Final Rule adopted by the United States Treasury Department, which allows American Rescue Plan recipients such as Nassau County to provide assistance to households or populations facing negative economic impacts due to COVID–19, including cash assistance. In doing so, Nassau County may consider negative economic impacts to households such as those who have experienced unemployment or food insecurity or housing insecurity or are low to moderate-income.
The Interim Final Rule, however, does not define low- to moderate-income. Using both the U.S. Department of Housing and Development’s (HUD) definition of Area Median Income (AMI) and the New York State Long Island Workforce Housing Act’s qualifying percentage of AMI for affordable workforce housing eligibility as guidance, the County has defined low and moderate income for HAP purposes to be up to 130% of HUD AMI for Nassau and Suffolk Counties. That means an income level up to $168,900 may be considered in the low to moderate bracket Consultant HR&A, Inc. concluded this is an appropriate basis for HAP.
The Household Assistance Program, therefore, will consist of two categories of eligible households:
Those with incomes up to $168,900
Those with incomes above $168,900 up to $500,000.
As described above, households in the first category are presumed to have experienced a negative economic impact from the pandemic and thus will not be required to demonstrate individual harm in their Boost Nassau Resource Portal Application. Households in the first category include those receiving Enhanced (senior) STAR, Limited Incomes and Disabilities and/or Senior Citizens property tax exemptions. Households in this group will not need to provide income information, nor complete an application.
Households in the second category (income above $168,900) up to $500,000 will be required to submit a Boost Nassau Portal application with documentation evidencing a negative economic impact from the pandemic, such as unemployment (e.g., receipt of unemployment benefits during 2020), food or housing insecurity (e.g., receipt of social services benefits, missed mortgage payments, utility arrears, eviction notices), unreimbursed medical bills (e.g., behavioral health costs brought on by the pandemic), increased child-care expenses, COVID 19-related death expenses or unreimbursed remote learning/work expenses including increased internet costs.
The County will utilize the existing Boost Nassau Resource Portal to streamline the application process, Comptroller approval and distribution of funds. To ensure compliance with federal guidance, the County will identify eligible households and verify incomes using income tax statements and available databases where possible and will set up an application process with outreach for others not listed in such existing records.
The HAP will be funded at $100 million from the County’s first distribution of American Rescue Plan Act, which totaled $192,501,720. The County is expected to receive a second distribution in May 2022.