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Hardship payments on the way

WINDOW ROCK

Supplemental CARES Hardship Assistance payments to elders are on the way and the American Rescue Plan Hardship Assistance application is now available.

Elders 60 and over who previously received Navajo CARES Act Hardship Assistance payments can expect an additional check for $342 in the mail by next week.

The Navajo Nation Council resolution (CD-61-21), sponsored by Delegate Eugene Tso and signed by President Jonathan Nez on Dec. 20, reallocated the remaining, unspent $16.5 million in CARES Act Hardship Assistance funds to elders by Dec. 31, 2021, due to the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We love and cherish our elders very much,” said Nez. “This pandemic has created many challenges for everyone, especially our elder parents and grandparents.”

Those who turned 60 after their CARES Act Hardship application was approved will also receive the $342 payment if they turned 60 by Dec. 31, 2021.

“Navajo Nation leaders and health officials strongly urge recipients to use the funds for essential items such as food, utilities, firewood, PPEs…,” stated the president’s office. “They also urge everyone to be mindful of COVID-19 risks and to use extreme caution in public.”

On Monday, the controller’s office began processing and sending out the checks to elders in daily batches due to the high volume of recipients.

“We have to remember that we are in the midst of a large surge in COVID-19 infections here on the Navajo Nation due to the Omicron variant,” said Nez.

He urged people not to overcrowd post offices, banks, and other border town businesses where Omicron is prevalent.

“Please be very cautious and do your best to stay home as much as possible,” said Nez.

ARPA hardship application

Separately, Council then the president approved the resolution (CD-62-21) that appropriated $557 million in ARPA funds for Hardship payments to Navajo citizens of $2,000 for adults and $600 for children who are enrolled members in the Navajo Tribe.

The ARPA Hardship application period opened on Monday, Jan. 10, and the application can be found on the controller’s office website (www.nnooc.org and www.Navajonationarpa.org).

Applicants have 12 months to apply before the application period ends on Dec. 30.

“We’ve listened to the stories and experiences shared by our people and we understand that there are many needs within homes and among families,” said Nez. “We strongly encourage our people to use the funds to provide financial relief and help your loved ones overcome this modern-day monster known as COVID-19.”

Those individuals who received CARES Act Hardship payments last year do not have to re-apply for the ARPA Hardship as they are automatically qualified.

Diné age 60 or older who received CARES Act Hardship payments will receive both the $342 check through the CARES Act and $2,000 through ARPA, for a total of $2,342.

Anyone who did not apply for the previous CARES Act Hardship payment needs to apply for the ARPA payment.

All new applicants are required to submit a Certificate of Indian Blood to comply with federal guidelines. No other form of identification is required.

Those who live off-reservation and are enrolled members with a CIB are eligible for ARPA Hardship Assistance.

Eligible tribal members in prison can also apply.

Minors who turned 18 on or before Jan. 4, 2022, when the ARPA hardship resolution was signed into law, are eligible as adults to receive $2,000.

If you do not have a CIB, you can apply for one through the Navajo Nation Vital Records Office (www.novri.navajo-nsn.gov).

In its FAQ sheet (www.opvp.navajo-nsn.gov), the president’s office said the controller’s office will issue ARPA Hardship payments “as soon as possible.”

“Our goal is to start issuing checks at the beginning of February,” said Acting Controller Elizabeth Begay in a Town Hall on Friday.

Reporting changes

If you have questions about your prior application for the CARES Act Hardship program, contact the controller’s office or just submit a new ARPA application.

Technical assistance for the Hardship application and CIB registration will be offered by the controller’s office and Vital Records office throughout the Nation and in urban areas, including Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Tucson. The schedule is being developed and will be shared with the public.

If you received a CARES Act Hardship payment and your mailing address has changed, a “change of address form” is available at www.nnooc.org or www.navajonationarpa.org.

Begay said it is important to update addresses as needed so that checks go to the right address.

Completed change of address forms as well as Hardship Applications can be submitted to ARPAHardship@nnooc.org or mailed to: Office of the Controller, P.O. Box 3150, Window Rock, AZ 86515.

Or, you can drop off the form at Administration Building No. 1 in Window Rock. All COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced.

Families of those persons who previously received CARES Act Hardship payments and have since passed on can report that information to the controller’s office and Vital Records office.

It is possible that uncashed funds can be applied toward funeral expenses but checks for deceased individuals cannot be reissued to another person.

Information: ARPAHardship@nnooc.org or 928-871-6106, 928-871-6315, 928-223-3525, 928-224-8148, 928-224-8187, 928-224-8212, 928-371-9226, 928-223-3709 or 928-223-3712.


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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