Newsom Announces New Initiatives To Help California Workers

By Michael J. Fitzgerald

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new initiatives Wednesday aimed at helping workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including undocumented individuals.

“Many Californians are one paycheck away from losing their homes or from being able to put food on their tables, and COVID-19 has only made these challenges worse,” Newsom said. “California is focused on getting relief dollars and unemployment assistance in the hands of those who need it as quickly as possible.”

One initiative is to launch an Employment Development Department call center, beginning Monday, that will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Additionally, the unemployment branch of the EDD will have 1,340 additional employees. Newsom also is directed the state agency to expedite the Work Share program to help avert layoffs.

As part of the new initiatives, the EDD will also offer one-stop shopping for individuals applying for unemployment insurance and the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that starts April 28.

The PUA program provides federal funds separate from unemployment insurance for some persons out of work or partially unemployed due to COVID-19. That includes self-employed people, individuals who may be employed but lack sufficient work history, and independent contracts.

PUA benefits will be issued within 24 to 48 hours, not the traditional 21 days for regular unemployment insurance claims, state officials said.

Newsom also announced a public-private partnership to provide $125 million in a disaster relief fund for undocumented immigrants impacted by COVID-19.

“California is the most diverse state in the nation. Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient,” Newsom said. “Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together.”

The fund will support undocumented residents who, due to their immigration status, may be ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief, including benefits from the federal CARES Act.

Approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household to deal with the specific needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals can apply for support beginning in May.

State officials also said Wednesday the state has put together a resource guide to provide information about COVID-19 related assistance and public benefits available to immigrant Californians.

The guide can be found at covid19.ca.gov/guide-immigrant-californians.

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