City of Seattle Provides Over 3,700 Grants Through Disaster Relief Fund for Immigrants

City Encourages Residents to Apply for Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund; Application Closes Sunday, December 6

Seattle (December 4, 2020) – The City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) – in partnership with Scholarship Junkies – has provided 3,703 individuals and households with direct cash assistance through its Disaster Relief Fund for Immigrants. This fund was created to support vulnerable immigrant and refugee communities who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but shut out of federal assistance through the CARES Act and state unemployment insurance.

“Under President Trump, the federal government did nothing as the pandemic swept across the nation killing thousands. And then he egregiously shut out taxpaying immigrants and their families from financial aid. No matter your immigration status, hard-working American families who pay taxes deserve access to financial assistance so they can continue to meet their basic needs during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Working with City Council, we developed a solution to address the urgent needs of thousands of our immigrant families,” said Mayor Durkan. “I also want to express my immense gratitude to our team at OIRA and Scholarship Junkies for their work to get these grants into the hands of Seattle families and meet the urgency of this moment.”

“The Council worked hard to ensure the City’s COVID relief programs uplifted our most vulnerable residents, which includes our immigrant and refugee families who have been shut out of federal benefits. COVID doesn’t discriminate between citizens and our immigrant and refugee neighbors, classmates, co-workers and small business owners; they deserve dignity and not to be left behind. By investing in all Seattle families who need help during this pandemic, we’ll ensure Seattle communities and our local economy is able to recover faster, and more fully,” said Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide).

OIRA’s Disaster Relief Fund for Immigrants provided $7.94 million in cash assistance to 3,703 eligible grant applicants. OIRA was able to fund every eligible applicant who lives in Seattle. The fund intentionally supports households who were ineligible for the CARES Act-provided “Economic Impact Payments” issued by the federal government. These “Economic Impact Payments,” or stimulus checks, were denied to both undocumented workers and to U.S.-born children with one or more undocumented parents. OIRA contracted with Scholarship Junkies to conduct the application and granting process. OIRA also contracted with 21 community partners to conduct outreach and in-language technical assistance to help community members complete their application. 

“We were able to stand up this program in a very short amount of time because of our community partners and their commitment, collaboration and ingenuity. Seattle again shows its leadership as a Welcoming City. We know that the need is great and we will continue to center the needs of our most vulnerable communities,” said Cuc Vu, Director of OIRA.

“This was a moment for us to show what it means to center community. In a first of its kind program, we listened to the experiences of immigrants, prioritized need, and gave assistance directly to people. As we look forward, we’ll need to embrace our commitment to each other. As an undocumented immigrant, I am excited to see us on the path to better support our immigrant community and emerge stronger than before,” said Alejandra Pérez, Senior Program Officer, Scholarship Junkies.

While the Seattle Disaster Relief Fund for Immigrants has closed, the state’s Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund is still taking applications. Residents are encouraged to apply, as applications close at 12:00 a.m. (PST) on Sunday, December 6. The fund is led by a coalition of immigrant organizations across the state. Applicants can call 1-844-724-3737, or apply online.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the City of Seattle has worked quickly to launch COVID-19 relief programs including rent relief, expanding shelter for people experiencing homelessness, grocery vouchers for working families, and financial assistance to small businesses. Residents and businesses can find a list of existing COVID-19 relief resources and policies on this website.

Seattle is a Welcoming City; for more information on our Welcoming City policies, please visit this website: www.seattle.gov/welcoming.  

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