Excluded New Jerseyans Fund gets more dollars

The state is adding more money to the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund after receiving a higher number of applications than would be covered by the $40 million pot that was allocated for the cash-assistance program.

Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman at the New Jersey Department of Human Services said earlier this week that applications will continue to be accepted through the previously announced Feb. 28 deadline, and funds will be allocated from the American Rescue Plan to provide assistance to eligible applicants who apply by the end of the month.

The state did not specify how much it thinks will be added.

Without the additional money, the fund would have been depleted and applications would have closed early.

“This fund provides a much-needed financial boost to families who were previously excluded from federal assistance,” said Gov. Phil Murphy in a prepared statement. “By committing this additional funding, we are making sure eligible families can continue to apply through the end of the month, and that those whose applications are approved will receive their benefits.”

The ENJF application period ends Feb. 28. Applicants who submit an application but do not include required documents by the deadline will be able to provide additional documents to demonstrate eligibility after the deadline.

The ENJF program provides a one-time, direct cash benefit to eligible low-income households that were excluded from federal stimulus checks and pandemic-related unemployment assistance.

Benefit amounts are $2,000 per eligible individual and a maximum of $4,000 per household.

Individuals with annual household incomes at or below $55,000, who live in New Jersey, are over 18 years of age and were excluded from federal COVID stimulus payments and pandemic unemployment assistance can apply to the ENJF without demonstrating COVID-related impacts. Proof of COVID impact is no longer required.

“Just two weeks after restoring the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund, applications have surged and $40 million of essential relief will go to communities in desperate need of assistance,” ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo said. “We applaud the Murphy administration for restoring the fund and simplifying the application process — these efforts worked, and thousands will benefit. But $40 million is not enough to support all 500,000 New Jerseyans ineligible for federal aid. We urge the New Jersey Legislature to build upon this success and allocate increased funds to ensure that all excluded communities can access relief and move our state toward true recovery.”

“This proves that the new, streamlined application process implemented by the Murphy administration was a big success, especially when paired with investments in community outreach,” said Nicole Rodriguez, research director at New Jersey Policy Perspective. “Now, thousands more families will receive much-needed pandemic relief from the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund. The state should sustain this momentum until no one is left behind in New Jersey’s pandemic recovery.”