How to apply for Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants in California

Migrant workers clean fields near Salinas, California, on March 30.


Governor Gavin Newsom and other private entities have funded a disaster relief assistance program for undocumented workers. This article will answer common questions to help you understand how to try to access these funds. This article is being shared from the Employee Rights Center. The information in this article is provided by The California Department of Social Services.


1. What is the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants Project?

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, California is providing one-time state-funded disaster relief assistance to undocumented adults who are ineligible for other forms of assistance, including assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and pandemic unemployment benefits, because of their immigration status. This state funding is expected to reach about 150,000 undocumented adults.

The California Department of Social Services has selected twelve immigrant-serving nonprofit organizations to help individuals apply for and receive this disaster relief assistance in their region. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household.


2. When is the disaster relief assistance available?

Individuals may begin applying on May 18, 2020. Assistance will be available until the funding is spent or until June 30, 2020, at the latest. Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis. Applicants may only seek assistance with the nonprofit organization(s) assigned to their county of residency. Please note:

  • Funding is limited, and disaster relief application services and assistance are not guaranteed.
  • Nonprofit organizations will not be assisting individuals prior to May 18. Individuals should not contact them ahead of time regarding disaster relief assistance.


3.  Who is eligible for this disaster relief assistance?

Eligible individuals must be able to provide information that they (1) are an undocumented adult (person over the age of 18); (2) are not eligible for federal COVID-19 related assistance, like the CARES Act tax stimulus payments or pandemic unemployment benefits; and, (3) have experienced a hardship as a result of COVID-19.


 4. Is the personal information provided to the nonprofits to apply for this disaster relief assistance protected?

  • The information provided to the nonprofit organizations will only be used to confirm eligibility and provide the disaster relief assistance to eligible individuals. The nonprofit organizations will share general demographic information (e.g. age, gender, preferred language, etc.) with the State of California about applicants, but no personal information (e.g. name, address, etc.) will be given to any government agency.


5. How does someone apply for this disaster relief assistance?

CDSS published the list of the nonprofit organizations that were selected to administer the disaster relief assistance in the various regions of California here:

Individuals who are interested in applying for this assistance should contact the nonprofit organization listed for their county no sooner than May 18. Interested applicants must contact the organization for their county directly to inquire about assistance availability. The nonprofit organization will assist individuals with the application process, confirm their eligibility, and deliver a payment card to approved applicants. Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Funding is limited, and disaster relief application services and assistance are not guaranteed.


6. How many people in a household can receive this disaster relief assistance?

A maximum of two adults per household can qualify for this assistance for a total of $1000 in assistance per household. A household is defined as individuals who live and purchase and prepare meals together.


To learn more about the California Dept. of Social Services DRAI applications go to:


The Employee Rights Center can help you find disaster relief information at no cost to you.


Undocumented workers need more support. Here's how you can help!

We appreciate Governor Gavin Newsom initiating this fund for undocumented workers, but we know that it is not enough for the millions of workers who have been left out of federal and state relief aid. Join us in calling our legislators to ask for a weekly partial income replacement fund for undocumented workers. Use the call in information and call script in the image below, provided by Safety Net 4 All of Us—the coalition organizing this work on behalf of undocumented workers.

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  • Mia Hemstad
    published this page in Blog 2020-05-20 16:43:07 -0700