Blakeman to end pandemic housing relief

Blakeman to end pandemic housing relief
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced the elimination of the Household Assistance Program which will go into effect on May 15. (Photo courtesy of the county executive's office)

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman will be ending a pandemic-relief program that provides residents with a one-time payment of $375, according to a letter sent to members of the Legislature on Friday.

Blakeman cited “extremely low participation” as to why he plans to discontinue the Household Assistance Program on May 15. All applications submitted by eligible residents before May 15, he said, would be processed. Officials from the county comptroller’s office said more than 70,000 out of the eligible 400,000 households throughout Nassau County filed for the one-time direct payment.

Blakeman previously said he planned to retain the program, implemented by his predecessor Laura Curran, a Democrat, but pointed out that the initiative now “appears to be trickling out.”

The funds for the program came from $100 million out of the $193 million in American Rescue Plan Act monies allocated to the county. The program was approved 18-1 in the Republican-controlled Legislature last fall.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Blakeman’s elimination of the program was an example of his “undercutting efforts to deliver immediate, meaningful financial relief” to Nassau County households with a combined income of up to $500,000.

“Rather than pulling the rug out from under our residents, we should be redoubling our efforts to get these funds into the hands of eligible taxpayers and local businesses,” Abrahams said in a statement. “This is just the latest example of how the county executive and his administration are out of touch with the needs of Nassau County’s working families.” 

For individuals who want to file for the one-time payment before the May 15 deadline, they must provide proof of suffering a negative economic impact from the pandemic to be eligible for the payment.

Documents such as receipts of unemployment benefits, food or housing insecurity, increased child-care expenses, coronavirus-related death expenses or unreimbursed remote work/learning expenses can be submitted through the Boost Nassau online portal.

The payments will only be sent to homeowners who already receive the state’s STAR or enhanced STAR exemptions, officials said.

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