How to Apply for California's Disaster Relief Assistance Fund for Undocumented Immigrants

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The California Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) opened May 18. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

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Updated May 20, 12:30 p.m.

California's Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) program, which aims to provide financial assistance for undocumented people across the state, is now accepting applications.

To apply, adult immigrants must demonstrate they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are not eligible to receive any federal coronavirus relief, such as in the CARES Act.

The DRAI offers a one-time direct payment of $500, with a maximum limit of $1,000 per household.

Starting May 18, individuals may apply for this assistance by calling the nonprofit organization assigned to their county or region. You can find the list of organizations by county here.

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Bay Area

Rural Northern California (plus Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties)

Central Coast

Central Valley

Los Angeles

Inland Empire

San Diego

The information applicants provide will only be used to confirm eligibility and no personal information will be shared with any government agency, according to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). But the nonprofits processing requests will send CDSS general demographics about the pool of applicants, such as age and gender.

So far, the response has been overwhelming. On the first day people could apply, nonprofits screening applicants in just eight counties said they got 1.3 million calls.

Christopher Martinez with Catholic Charities of the East Bay said their phone system crashed multiple times due to demand. Undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens, day laborers, seniors and homeless people were among more than 200,000 callers from six Bay Area counties, he said.

“That is absolutely unprecedented. I think that it just really shows you the enormity of the need in the community,” said Martinez.

The state aims to help up to 150,000 undocumented Californians with the relief.

In Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights or CHIRLA has added a new phone line after more than 1 million people called on Monday. They expect funds won’t run out for some weeks, and advise people to keep calling until they get through.

"We are working diligently to help as many people as we can and to deal with any technical issues that might arise," said Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA, in a statement earlier this week. "We are committed to work through every issue and to continue to advocate for our community now and in the future. We know this help is much needed and we know our community trusts us to deliver it to them."

Catholic Charities of California, the organization serving six Bay Area counties, opened an additional phone line to support the high demand for undocumented Californians seeking to apply for financial aid. People in the Bay Area seeking support can now call the new number 415-324-1011, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. at 8 p.m., in addition to the original phone number that had been provided on May 18, 2020, 1-866-490-3899.

In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $75 million state fund for this project, and it makes California the first state in the country to give aid directly to undocumented people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is California's guide for all immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.