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Cash Assistance funds still available for certain workers impacted by COVID-19

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — To date, a total of $1.6 million has been distributed by the Department of Human Resources for workers in both private businesses and non-profit workers who were impacted by the COVID-19 Code Red declaration from Feb 22 - April 18, 2022.

This is part of the ARPA Cash Assistance Program that provides financial assistance to meet day-to-day needs that would otherwise go unmet during the declaration timeframe.

This was confirmed by DHR’s Acting Chief for the Unemployment Division, Joseph Felise in response to Samoa News questions.

The cash assistance is for impacted workers and will urgently aid in the immediate needs of eligible workers that have been affected by furlough or reduced hours of employment.

The program will provide up to $240 per week for qualified workers for the period that they were furloughed due to Public Health Declaration on February 22, 2022 says the DHR website.

“The cash assistance for impacted businesses will assist small to medium-sized businesses that, due to the Public Health Emergency Declaration, were required to close or reduce hours of operation resulting in a drop in revenue.

 “The program will assist business-related costs like rents, utilities, shipping, and other eligible operational expenses up to $10,000 worth per business establishment.

The Department of Human Resources administers the program and provided details for the application process, eligibility criteria, and the distribution plan.”

The DHR staff was in Manu’a this past week conducting awareness on this program.

 “We want Manu'a Island's workforce to receive the same opportunity to apply for the Cash Assistance Program.

 “We were able to set up sites and outreaches here in Tutuila, the same applies for the Manu'a islands.”

According to Felise, of the overall amount of 2.5mil allocated for this ARPA Cash Assistance Program a total of $1.6 million has already been disbursed. 

“The $1.6 million mentioned was the amount already disbursed for a total of 2600+ workers. 

“So far, about 2,560 employees for Private Businesses received payments while the rest were non profit organizations employees (40 non profit employees to be exact).

The Cash Assistance Program is for Private Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations impacted workers only,” said Felise.

According to the DHR eligibility criteria and requirements are: COVID-19 Vaccination Card; Social Security Card and Immigration Card.

 Those eligible include: “applicants who experienced pay cuts or furloughs from private sector employment from February 22-April 18, 2022, due to Code Red business restrictions; applicants who were unemployed or underemployed from February 22-April 18, 2022, due to Code Red business restrictions; applicants who experienced a loss of income from February 22-April 18, 2022, due to Code Red restrictions; and applicants who experienced a reduction in work hours from February 22-April 18, 2022, due to Code Red restrictions.