Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was joined by local homeowners to call on the Nassau County Legislature to cut their summer vacations short and return to work in order to pass the Household Assistance Program (HAP), which would send $375 in direct cash payments to up to 400,000 Nassau County households. The Republican Majority in the Nassau County Legislature has stalled on passing the important legislation and is not currently scheduled to return to Mineola for weeks. The County Legislature has been on break since Aug. 2.
Curran held her press conference at the home of Cheri, a retired kindergarten teacher from North Bellmore who would benefit greatly from [the payment]. Joining the county executive was President of the Long Island Federation of Labor John Durso and retired U.S. Navy Veteran Carter Ward of Hempstead.
“It is well past time for the County Legislature to approve my plan to deliver direct payments to Nassau residents. Instead of waiting another few weeks and stalling the process even further, let’s take action now. The Household Assistance Plan will not only help those who continue to struggle, but also provide a meaningful boost to our local economy,” Curran said.
Majority Leader of the United States Senate Sen. Chuck Schumer added, “I fought tooth-and-nail 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 residents who have experienced hardship throughout the pandemic.”
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 percent 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.
—Submitted by the office of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran