If you are an essential worker, first responder, or healthcare worker, you may be eligible for New York State’s Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund. Announced on March 6, 2021, the Fund was designed to help eligible essential workers who responded to the public health emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic and are in financial need. Up to $1000 per household may be available to eligible applicants for eligible expenses.

The Office of Children and Family Services will coordinate the program. To be eligible to apply, you can earn up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $125,470 for a family of four. Employers, unions, or social service providers can verify your employment during the ongoing pandemic. Referrals may be required. Qualifying expenses include childcare, transportation, lodging, and other costs that allowed you to perform your duties as an essential worker. The Fund can be used to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses that have not been reimbursed by another source. Additional details about the application process are not yet released.

The $29 million fund is non-competitive and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Reimbursement is available until funds run out, so it’s important to apply as soon as possible. You can sign up to be notified by email when the application is released here. You can also call the Fund’s hotline at 844-679-3369 for more details.