"With so many families still struggling from the impact of the pandemic, this should be a no-brainer," Curran said.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was joined by local homeowners, members of the County Legislature, and business leaders to call on the County’s Legislative Majority to approve County Executive Curran’s plan (“Household Assistance Program”) to send $375 direct payments to up to 400,000 homeowners and renters in Nassau County. The Household Assistance Program would utilize American Rescue Plan funding provided to Nassau County. Although County Executive Curran filed the legislation 45 days ago, GOP Legislative Majority has failed to put the plan on the Legislative Calendar despite meeting several times since it was filed.
Elected officials who spoke in favor of the Household Assistance Program included Minority Leader of the County Legislature Kevan Abrahams and Legislator Arnold Drucker. Local homeowners and residents who spoke in favor of the relief plan included Shahid Satti, a businessman from Woodbury, Irma Acosta, a homeowner from Massapequa, and Carter Ward, a retired U.S. Navy Veteran from Hempstead.
“Nassau County’s finances are in the best shape they have been in years thanks to fiscal discipline by my Administration. That's why I've proposed to set aside half of the funding Nassau County will receive under the American Rescue Plan to provide $375 direct payments to middle and working-class homeowners. With so many families still struggling from the impact of the pandemic, this should be a no-brainer. But instead of working with my Administration to deliver relief to residents and businesses, the Legislative Majority is stalling action in the hopes that it helps their chances in November. I urge them to stop playing politics and approve direct payments for homeowners,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
“Nassau County families are still struggling with the ripple effects from the pandemic economic downturn. However, when presented with an opportunity to deliver meaningful, immediate aid directly to residents, the Republican majority has once again chosen to play cynical politics with people's livelihoods. After a month and a half of willful inaction, enough is enough. It's time for the Legislature to act on County Executive Curran's proposal and get checks in the mail to Nassau residents," said Minority Leader of the County Legislature Kevan Abrahams.
The Household Assistance Program was crafted by the Curran Administration following the Interim Final Rule published 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, food insecurity, 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- to moderate-income for HAP purposes to be up to 130% of HUD AMI for Nassau and Suffolk Counties. That means a household income level up to $168,900 may be considered in the low-to-moderate-income 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 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.