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Diné being hired to help with Hardship program

WINDOW ROCK

With the application period for phase two of the Navajo Hardship Assistance Program opening on Aug. 1, the controller’s office has rolled out a plan to hire Navajos to help run the program.

“We will be hiring local people to help us implement the phase two Hardship Assistance,” Acting Controller Elizabeth Begay said in a town hall on Tuesday.

President Jonathan Nez said this time around, rather than paying an outside contractor, they are putting Navajo people to work.

“This is a great opportunity for our Navajo people, including students who are home for the summer, to gain work experience and build their professional skills,” said Nez.

The phase two application process will also be carried out with paper or digital PDF applications instead of through an automated online portal.

The controller’s office will be hiring office assistants, office specialists and student interns to work at the chapter level to distribute Hardship applications and help people through the application deadline of Sept. 30.

“That will be enough time for all the temporary workers to cover all the chapters within the agencies,” said Begay. “The purpose of that is to assist the applicants, especially those who do not have a computer to fill in the application.”

The fillable, printable PDF file of the phase two Hardship Assistance application is on the www.nnooc.org website (click on the blue button).

According to Begay, completed, printed paper applications can be mailed or dropped off to the controller’s office even though they won’t be processed until the 60-day application period starts (Aug. 1 to Sept. 30).

“We will be hiring all these temporary workers so they can assist you personally in filling out your application and be there to help you and answer questions you may have,” said Begay.

$400 payments

The Navajo Nation Council unanimously approved a bill on June 25 to establish the Phase II CARES Fund Hardship Assistance Expenditure Plan that President Jonathan Nez signed on July 2.

Of the $361.5 million that ended up in the Hardship pot, which included reversions from unfinished CARES Act projects, $319.5 million was expended for Hardship payments to about 308,000 Navajos earlier this year.

Funding for phase two will come out of the remaining $41.97 million in the Navajo CARES Hardship Fund and will be available to eligible Navajo citizens who did not receive funding from the first round of Hardship Assistance payments.

However, Begay explained that said phase two applicants will only receive around $400 per person, because of the smaller amount funding available.

“In phase two, we have a limited amount of money and we’re anticipating 90,000 or so applicants that have not been assisted in phase one,” she said.

The controller’s office is currently contacting 1,865 individuals who submitted an application prior to last November’s phase one deadline but are still missing supporting documents or their applications contain incorrect information.

For example, 1,378 of these applicants still have issues with their CIB, such as a mismatch, she said, and applicants have until July 31 to resolve the issues.

Begay recommended these applicants quickly resolve any missing documentation as soon as possible so that they can receive the full payments of $1,350 for adults and $450 for minors to which they are entitled.

If application issues are not resolved by July 31, they can reapply through the phase two application process, she said.

Additionally, the 8,869 applicants who were “wait-listed” because they didn’t submit their application by Nov. 30, 2020, but have provided all of the required information to complete their application, will not need to reapply in phase two, added Begay, but they will still receive lower payments.

Begay reminds phase two applicants that the purpose of the CARES Act fund is to help enrolled Navajos who were negatively impacted by COVID-19.

“It is very important that you state in the application the reason why you are asking for assistance,” she said.

She also encouraged new applicants to be prepared to provide their complete information including full name, Census number, CIB, date of birth, chapter affiliation, and complete address, phone, and email contact information.

The new controller’s office CARES Hardship helpline number is 888-291-9748 if applicants want to call with questions. An email address is currently being set up, said Begay.

Job fairs

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the controller’s Office held job fairs for the temporary workers at Shiprock and Chinle chapters.

Applicants can attend job fairs at St. Michaels Chapter House on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Tuba City Chapter House on July 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Crownpoint Chapter House on July 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Applications will be available onsite or can be downloaded online at http://www.dpm.navajo-nsn.gov/

Applicants will be required to provide a valid state driver’s license and Certificate of Indian Blood.

For student intern positions, recent high school graduates will need to provide a copy of letter of acceptance/admission to college and class schedule for the fall.

Continuing college students will need a copy of transcripts for the most recent semester completed and class schedule for the upcoming semester.

The Department of Personnel Management will also be on-site at the job fairs to talk with applicants and assess their applications.

Controller’s office officials will conduct interviews and qualified applicants who are hired on the spot will need to provide a copy of their Social Security card.

As of yet, there is no legislation to provide another Hardship payment from the American Rescue Plan Act funding of approximately $1.9 billion to the Nation.

Begay has estimated it will take about $600 million in ARPA funds to accommodate almost 400,000 enrolled Navajos with a new round of Hardship Assistance at $2,000 per adult and $1,000 per child.

Information (job applications): ellahoward@nnooc.org or laurajohnson@nnooc.org

 


About The Author

Rima Krisst

Reporter and photojournalist Rima Krisst has been with the Navajo Times since July of 2018, and covers our Arts and Culture and Government Affairs beats. Prior to joining the editorial team at the Times, Krisst worked in various capacities in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and Indian Affairs policy on behalf of the Tribes, Nations and Pueblos of New Mexico. Among her posts, she served as Director of PR and Communications for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department under Governor Bill Richardson, Healthcare Outreach and Education Manager for the Eight Northern Pueblos, Tribal Tourism Liaison for the City of Santa Fe, and Marketing Projects Coordinator for Santa Fe Indian Market. As a writer and photographer, she has also worked independently as a contractor on many special projects, and her work has been published in magazines. Krisst earned her B.S. in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Connecticut.

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