BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New Yorkers will receive an extra $300 per week after FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor approved the state for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance Program. The $300 per week will be in addition to regular unemployment benefits.
FEMA will work with Governor Cuomo's office to establish a system making funding available for New Yorkers. 7 Eyewitness News is working to find out when this $300 per week will be distributed and how. The news team has reached out to Governor Cuomo's office, the Department of Labor and FEMA for details.
The Department of Labor Spokesperson Deanna Cohen said in a statement:
"We are diligently working to update our systems so we can administer the Lost Wages Assistance program and deliver supplemental benefits to New Yorkers as quickly as possible."
The money comes from $44 billion President Trump made available on August 8, 2020 from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund to financially assist Americans who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's going to let me start my life over again," said William Ayers.
Over the past few months, William Ayers has watched nearly everyone around him go back to work. Ayers is a 53-year-old used car salesman from North Tonawanda who has been laid off since March.
“Everybody else seems to be moving ahead in their lives a little bit, but for me it's just stagnant,” Ayers said, “Back in February before all of this happened, I had a great job that I had for 13 years. I've been in my same career for 35 years. 10 years until I retire. Everything was going pretty good. Now, everything is so up in the air. I never, ever in a million years thought I'd be in this situation.”
He's had to make choices he never even thought would cross his mind.
“It's pretty sad when you go to the grocery store and they ask if you want to pay a nickel for a bag and you have to think about it,” Ayers said.
New York's Budget Director Robert Mujica released this statement on the FEMA benefits:
"Now that the federal government has blinked and will no longer make states provide funding they do not have, New York State will apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program. As Governor Cuomo has said, politics does not impact policy -- especially during a pandemic -- and if New Yorkers are in need, this administration will do everything we can to support them. But make no mistake, this does not absolve Washington from doing its job, and they must pass a comprehensive aid package that provides a stable extension of unemployment benefits, repeals the SALT cap and supports local and state governments. Anything else would simply be unacceptable."