Guide to Disaster Assistance Services for Immigrant New Yorkers

Guide to Disaster Assistance Services for Immigrant New Yorkers

(From Office of Immigrant Affairs, NYC)

In order to ensure that all New Yorkers understand the types of federal, state and local aid available in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we have compiled the following resources with direct links to more information and applications, where possible. The goal of this page is to help you better understand the disaster assistance services for which you may be eligible, as well as the steps you can take to access those services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible for any disaster assistance if I am undocumented?

Yes, even if you are undocumented, there are a number of resources and services that you can access. In this guide, we identify many services that are available to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. All New Yorkers are invited to visit New York City Restoration Centers where staff are present to help identify the resources and services available.

What does the term “qualified alien” mean?

The federal government classifies certain immigrants as “qualified aliens” for the purpose of providing disaster assistance services:

  • Lawful permanent residents (people who have “green cards”)
  • Refugees, asylees, or persons granted “withholding of removal/deportation”
  • Persons paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
  • Cuban or Haitian entrants
  • Certain victims of domestic violence
  • Victims of trafficking, although not “qualified aliens,” are eligible for services in the same manner as refugees

What if some members of my household are U.S. citizens or “qualified aliens” and others are not?

  • Some households have members with different immigration statuses – for example, undocumented parents may be living with their children, some or all of whom are U.S. citizens. These households are sometimes referred to as “mixed status.” In such cases, undocumented individuals in the household may be able to apply for disaster assistance services on behalf of their U.S. citizen children or other members of the household who are U.S. citizens or “qualified aliens.”

What should I do if I am applying on behalf of someone in my household who is a U.S. citizen or qualified alien?

  • Make it clear that you are seeking services only for your children, not for yourself.
  • Do not provide any information about your own immigration status. Information about your status is unnecessary, since you are not seeking services for yourself.
  • Do not provide any false information.

What if I have lost my identification or other documents and have trouble proving lawful status or identity?

  • It is common and understandable for people to lose documents when disasters strike. Fire, water, and wind can destroy documents. People evacuated quickly from a danger zone may not have time to gather their documents.
  • Agencies that provide disaster services understand this. Often they will relax normal application requirements about proving citizenship, immigration status, or identity.
  • Immigrants who apply or ask for help after a disaster should describe their situation. If they lost or left their documents behind when the disaster hit, they should explain this to any agency official who asks for their documents.
  • Loss of documents may affect a person’s ability to receive financial assistance and other recovery-related benefits in a timely manner. Individuals who have lost important documents or whose documents were damaged by Hurricane Sandy should apply for replacement documents (see page 12).

What if I do not speak English well and need help applying for disaster services?

  • Agencies that help disaster victims often have staff who speak languages other than English. Or they may use interpreters who can help people who don’t speak English. The interpreters may be at the disaster site or available by telephone. When interpreting services are provided, they should be free of charge.
  • New York City agencies are required to provide interpretation services, including the use of telephonic interpretation, oral or written translation services, and translation of essential public documents into the most commonly spoken languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian and Haitian Creole.
  • Disaster victims should not hesitate to ask for an interpreter if they need one. They should tell the agency staff person what language they speak and ask for an interpreter.
  • “I-Speak…” Cards are available at NYC Restoration Centers.

Will accepting disaster services prevent me from being able to get a “green card” or U.S. citizenship?

  • Emergency disaster relief is exempted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from public charge consideration USCIS Public Charge Guidance
  • Getting disaster services from the government does not make an immigrant ineligible for lawful permanent residence (getting a “green card”) or citizenship. Receiving disaster assistance does not make an immigrant a “public charge.”

Human Services

Food and Nutrition Assistance

The following food and nutrition assistance services are available to New Yorkers impacted by Hurricane Sandy, regardless of immigration status:

Disaster Food Stamps (D-SNAP)

D-SNAP (Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) provides temporary food assistance to affected households in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Individuals and families can receive a one-time payment if they lived in the identified disaster area, and meet certain other eligibility requirements.

Eligible people can apply for D-SNAP on the following dates and at two locations:

  • Downtown Brooklyn:  495 Clermont Avenue, December 12 to December 18, 2012, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.,
    • For the first two days, we are accepting applicants alphabetically, according to last names. Wednesday, December 12, only applicants with a last name beginning with A-M;
      Thursday, December 13, only applicants with a last name beginning with N-Z
      All other days, are open to all applicants, regardless of last name.
  • Staten Island: New Dorp High School, 465 New Dorp Lane, Friday, December 14, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, December 15-16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Monday, December 17, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    • This location is open every day to all applicants regardless of last name.

For more information, see the D-SNAP Q&A document created by the NYC Human Resources Administration.

Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program

The WIC program is available to pregnant women and young children regardless of immigration status. Certain rules of the WIC program have also been relaxed in disaster areas. New York has also been granted exemptions in the designated areas to: mail checks if beneficiaries have transportation issues and can’t come to the WIC agency, certify applicants even if their child is not physically present at the WIC agency site, and tailor food packages to reflect the fact that some people do not have access to their homes or are experiencing power outages or water issues.

For more information:

Locations Where Prepared Food is Available

Mobile food sites, emergency food activity programs and prepared/hot food distribution sites are running across the City to provide meals to hungry New Yorkers. For a list of locations and times, visit the Food Distribution webpage on NYC.gov http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/
html/2012/hot_food.html

Healthcare

The following healthcare services are available to New Yorkers impacted by Hurricane Sandy, regardless of immigration status:

Mobile Medical Van Locations

Mobile medical vans staffed with primary care providers are able to provide medical care and distribute commonly prescribed drugs. Information on exactly where you can find these vans is available on NYC.gov http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/
html/2012/medical_vans.html
 

HHC Options

Through HHC Options, low and moderate-income HHC patients can get affordable healthcare.  HHC helps patients apply for public health insurance programs for which they may qualify. If a patient is not eligible for public insurance, we reduce the patient’s fee to an affordable amount, based on family size and income.

For more information:

Mental and Physical Health Counseling

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is present at NYC Restoration Centers to provide critical information about the safe cleanup of mold and other dangers and health risks, such as carbon monoxide poisoning and hypothermia. Staff will also be present to help individuals with mental health needs and refer them to crisis counseling, psychological first aid, and other services.

For more information and assistance:

Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP)

Women and teens who live in New York State who are pregnant and meet certain income guidelines can receive complete medical care during pregnancy, delivery and for at least two months after delivery. You may be eligible even if you have health insurance. PCAP is available to all pregnant women and teens, regardless of immigration status.

For more information:

  • Visit a New York City Restoration Center http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/
    html/2012/dasc.html
  • Call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline 1-800-522-5006. The Hotline can also provide information on Child Health Plus (CHIP), the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program and Medicaid

Child Health Plus (CHIP)

CHIP provides low-cost health insurance coverage for children in families who earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid coverage but can’t afford to purchase private health insurance. CHIP is a state and federal partnership program that works closely with Medicaid. Undocumented young people under the age of 19 are eligible for CHIP.

For more information:

  • Visit a New York City Restoration Center http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/
    html/2012/dasc.html
  • Call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline 1-800-522-5006.The Hotline can also provide information on the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, the Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP) and Medicaid.

Emergency Medicaid

Medicaid coverage is available, regardless of immigration status, if you are pregnant or require treatment for an emergency medical condition.

For more information:

  • Visit a New York City Restoration Center http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/
    html/2012/dasc.html
  • Call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline 1-800-522-5006. The Hotline can also provide information on Child Health Plus (CHIP), the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program and the Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP).

Cash and Other Assistance

FEMA Cash Assistance – Other Than Housing Needs

FEMA provides cash assistance for disaster-related medical and dental expenses, disaster-related funeral and burial expenses, clothing, household items, tools required for your job, educational materials, fuel for heat, clean-up items, vehicle damage, moving and storage expenses, other expenses deemed necessary by FEMA or authorized by law. You or someone who lives with you must be a U.S. citizen or “qualified alien” to apply.

For more information and to apply for assistance:

You will need the following information to complete the registration:

  • Social Security Number (SSN): If you are undocumented, you will not be personally eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs. However, your household may still be eligible to receive assistance as you may apply on behalf of your U.S. citizen child, or another adult household member may qualify the household for assistance. 
  • Insurance information: You will be asked to identify the type(s) of insurance coverage you have.
  • Financial information: You will be asked to enter your family’s gross total household income at the time of the disaster.
  • Contact information: Along with the address and phone number where the damages occurred, you will be asked for information on how FEMA can contact you. It is very important that you provide FEMA with your current mailing address and phone numbers where you can be contacted.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Direct Deposit Information (optional): If you are determined to be eligible for assistance and would prefer that funds be transferred to your account, you will be asked for your banking information, which includes; the institution name, type of account, routing and account number.
  • Please have pen and paper available to record information during the registration process.

Temporary Cash Assistance

A cash grant that includes a shelter portion, energy assistance grants, and additional money to assist with other expenses. Undocumented immigrants may be eligible to apply for temporary cash assistance on behalf of U.S. citizen children.

For more information:

The following services are available to all New Yorkers impacted by Hurricane Sandy, regardless of immigration status:

FEMA Crisis Counseling

This program provides grants that enable states to offer immediate crisis counseling services, when required, to victims of a major federally declared disaster for the purpose of relieving mental health problems caused or aggravated by a major disaster or its aftermath. Assistance is short-term and community-oriented.

For more information:

FEMA Disaster Legal Services

These services offer free legal assistance to individuals affected by a major federal disaster. Types of assistance typically include help with insurance claims, preparing powers of attorney, help with guardianships, and preparing new wills and other lost legal documents. To find out if your State has a Disaster Legal Services program, Program Contact Information

For more information:

  • Call the FEMA Helpline 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). For the hearing impaired, please call 1-800-462-7585.

Visit http://www.abanet.org/disaster/,http://www.disasterlegalaid.org/ or http://www.lsc.gov/

 

Housing

Shelter and Emergency Housing

These shelter and emergency housing services are available to all New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy, regardless of immigration status:

Daytime Warming Center Locations

With the drop in temperatures, the City is providing warming centers located within Senior Centers in the five boroughs for a place to get out of the cold during the day. For an updated list of times and locations, call 311 or visit the warming center webpage (http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/
html/2012/warming_ctr.html
) on NYC.gov.

Individual and Family Shelter Locations

As Hurricane Sandy recovery continues, we have closed the large scale evacuation shelters. If your home has been damaged due to the storm and you need shelter or relocation assistance, please visit a New York City Restoration Center (http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc
/html/2012/dasc.html
).

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) operates the City’s shelter system. Individuals and families who have no housing alternatives should apply at a DHS intake center.

For more information:

Cash Assistance, Temporary Housing and Home Repair

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Cash Assistance – Individuals and Households

FEMA provides cash assistance for temporary housing, home repair, home replacement, and other housing-related needs. You or someone who lives with you must be a U.S. citizen or “qualified alien” to apply.

For more information and to apply for assistance:

You will need the following information to complete the registration:

  • Social Security Number (SSN): If you are undocumented, you will not be personally eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs. However, your household may still be eligible to receive assistance as you may apply on behalf of your U.S. citizen child, or another adult household member may qualify the household for assistance. 
  • Insurance information: You will be asked to identify the type(s) of insurance coverage you have.
  • Financial information: You will be asked to enter your family’s gross total household income at the time of the disaster.
  • Contact information: Along with the address and phone number where the damages occurred, you will be asked for information on how FEMA can contact you. It is very important that you provide FEMA with your current mailing address and phone numbers where you can be contacted.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Direct Deposit Information (optional): If you are determined to be eligible for assistance and would prefer that funds be transferred to your account, you will be asked for your banking information, which includes; the institution name, type of account, routing and account number.
  • Please have pen and paper available to record information during the registration process.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Housing Loans

As a homeowner, renter and/or personal-property owner, you may apply to the SBA for a loan to help you recover from a disaster. Renters and homeowners alike may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, cars, appliances, etc. damaged or destroyed in the disaster. Homeowners may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence to its pre-disaster condition.

For more information and to apply for assistance:

NYC Rapid Repairs

NYC Rapid Repairs is a free program to help residential property owners affected by Hurricane Sandy make emergency repairs. These emergency repairs will allow residents to stay in their homes so that they can complete more permanent repairs and finishes.  You must have a FEMA number to apply - you or someone who lives with you must be a U.S. citizen or “qualified alien.”

For more information:

HomeBase Prevention Program

Homebase is a city-wide program designed to help families and individuals overcome immediate housing problems that could result in becoming homeless, and to develop a plan for long-term housing stability. Program services are crafted to meet the unique needs of each individual or family and to help meet the demands of maintaining a household. Homebase clients are assigned a case manager who will coordinate all their services. Some of these services will be provided directly through Homebase, and others will be provided by community partners. Some of the services that are available to qualified households include: Family or tenant/landlord mediation Household budgeting; Emergency rental assistance; Job training and placement; Benefits advocacy (child care, food stamps, tax credits, public health insurance).

Homebase can refer clients to emergency hotels located throughout the city.  These referrals reserved for those with no other housing options after speaking with Homebase staff. Eligible clients previously lived in a zip code affected by the storm, have met with Homebase staff, and have a FEMA number (you or someone who lives with you must be a U.S. citizen or “qualified alien” to apply).

For more information:

HRA Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

HRA’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is accepting applications. HEAP provides help with heating bills through the winter months, and can also help with heating emergencies like damaged boilers and furnaces. You must have a “qualified alien” adult in your household in order to apply.

For more information:

Call 1-800-692-0557

Employment and Small Business Services

Resources for Displaced Workers

Eligibility for these programs and services is limited to individuals who have work authorization:

FEMA Disaster Unemployment Assistance

The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides unemployment benefits and re-employment services to individuals who have become unemployed because of major disasters. Benefits begin with the date the individual was unemployed due to the disaster incident and can extend up to 26 weeks after the Presidential declaration date. These benefits are made available to individuals not covered by other unemployment compensation programs, such as self-employed, farmers, migrant and seasonal workers, and those who have insufficient quarters to qualify for other unemployment compensation.

For more information and to apply:

  • Visit FEMA’s website (http://www.fema.gov/additional-assistance)
  • Call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124
  • File your application with the New York State Department of Labor as soon as possible
  • The application deadline is February 4, 2013

Dislocated Worker Activities

The dislocated worker program provides training and related assistance to persons who have lost their jobs and are unlikely to return to their current jobs or industries.

For information about the specific services available in your area, contact your local State Dislocated Worker Unit.

New York State Department of Labor Hurricane Clean-Up Employment Pre-Registration

The United States Department of Labor awarded the New York State Department of Labor grant funds to hire workers to assist in the cleanup of Hurricane Sandy. The grant will be used to help clean up impacted communities in Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties.

You must be unemployed prior to or as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy. Further information on this program can be found at the following web address:

For more information or to apply:

  • Apply online – visit www.labor.ny.gov
  • Apply by phone – call the Department of Labor at 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365)
  • Apply in person – visit a New York City Restoration Center

Resources for Small Business Owners

Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Loans

Businesses and private non-profit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.  The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

For more information:

NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Emergency Loan Fund and NYC Matching Grant

If you are a small business in need of an emergency loan to recover from business interruption, you can now access loans of up to $25,000. Loans are interest-free for the first six months and 1% interest for the following 24 months. Businesses that are approved for a loan and have been displaced from their workplace for three weeks or more can also receive up to an additional $10,000 through the NYC Matching Grant.

For more information:

Hurricane Emergency Sales Tax Exemption Program (HESTEP)

The New York City Industrial Development Agency will provide emergency assistance to small businesses by establishing the Hurricane Emergency Sales Tax Exemption Program (“HESTEP”). This program will provide sales tax exemptions of up to $100,000 for each affected company on purchases of building, construction and renovation materials, machinery and equipment and other items of personal property and related services needed to rebuild after the storm. Companies undertaking projects of approximately $350,000 in value or more are encouraged to apply. Eligible businesses should obtain the HESTEP sales tax letter prior to making eligible capital expenditures.

For more information:

Temporary Office Space

Free co-working space, supplies, and other services available for businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy:
Businesses can access desk space, power, internet and more at many locations throughout the five boroughs. You can access a complete listing of locations today: http://www.nycedc.com/
backtobusiness#sandydonations
. If your company can donate space or other services, please visit www.nycedc.com/canyourcompanyhelp.

Some locations include:

Shared Work Program

If you are in danger of laying off employees due to Hurricane Sandy, enter employees into The Shared Work Program.
The Shared Work program gives you an alternative to laying off full-time employees when you have to deal with temporary business downturns. It makes sense for you to keep productive employees. Instead of cutting staff, you can reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a select group, and the employees would receive Shared Work Benefits to help offset the lower wages. Apply todayhttp://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/
employerinfo/shared-work-program.shtm
.

 

Replacing Lost or Damaged Documents

Type of Document Agency/Process
Foreign ID

  • Passport
  • Consular ID
To replace lost or damaged foreign documents, such as birth certificates, passports and consular IDs, visit your local consulate. For a list of foreign consulates and contact information, visit NYC.gov and search “foreign consulate” or call 311.
U.S. ID

  • Birth Certificate
  • Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Social Security Card
Birth Certificate

  • If you were born in New York City, contact the NYC Department of Health (DOHMH) by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov/vitalrecords.
  • If you were born in the United States but outside New York City, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/
    w2w.htm
     or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to find out the process for your city and state.

Driver’s License (New York State)

U.S. Passport

  • Call 1-877-487-2778 (or TTY 1-888-874-7793) to report a lost or stolen passport.
  • Visit www.travel.state.gov or a local Passport Acceptance Facility.

Social Security Administration (SSA)

Immigration Documents

  • Green Card
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Employment Authorization Document
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

  • Visit USCIS.gov or call 1-800-375-5283 (National Customer Service Center) or call 1-800-870-3676 (Order Forms)

 

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