In a special session on June 25, the Navajo Nation Council unanimously passed a bill to establish a Phase II CARES Fund spending plan for hardship cases.
The bill would provide funding to eligible Navajo tribesmen who did not receive funds under the initial hardship payments.
The second phase will be funded from the remaining $ 41.97 million in the Hardship Fund from the Navajo Allocation from the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, plus any investment income.
In August 2020, the Navajo Nation Council decided to provide financial assistance to Navajo people and families in financial need due to the coronavirus pandemic and public health orders, and passed the Navajo Nation CARES Hardship Assistance spending plan Find.
Of the $ 361.5 million that ended up in the hardship that included repayments from unfinished CARES Act projects and services, $ 319.5 million was spent on hardship payments to 308,000 Navajos.
Acting Controller Elizabeth Begay confirmed that her office is now able to retrieve hardship claim information from Baker Tilly, the accounting firm that former Controller Pearline Kirk hired to manage the hardship support portal.
With an amendment added by Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton, the bill prioritizes payments to 1,865 Navajos who applied by November 30, 2020, the hardship application deadline, but did not receive checks because certain documents such as CIB were not submitted, or personal information such as date of birth or addresses was incorrect or inconsistent with existing records.
“The legislation opens the harshness to anyone who did not apply,” said Charles-Newton. “My amendment says that the 1,865 people who applied before the deadline but didn’t receive their checks will be processed first.
“They did everything they should, but they ran into problems that were beyond their control,” she said. “It’s all about being fair.”
Begay said it would take a total of $ 2.45 million to process the checks to the 1,865 claimants out of the remaining $ 41.97 million, and that payments must be made by July 31st, provided that all outstanding application problems have been resolved.
For these individuals, the payments of $ 1,350 for adults and $ 450 for children are the same as those received by previous applicants.
After the payments were distributed to the 1,865, Begay said the remaining 90,135 of the 399,494 enrolled Navajos who did not apply for hardship or missed the deadline were under phase. Apply for payments from the balance of $ 39.52 million II.
However, if all 90,135 apply, they would only get an estimated $ 438 per person, she said.
The bill states that the controller’s office will “set, publish and implement a 60-day filing deadline for eligible Navajos who have not previously received hardship funds …”.
“Our office has the authority to set the start and end dates of the 60-day application period for Phase II,” said Begay.
As it stands, Begay plans to open the application period on August 1st and last until September 30th.
Begay previously suggested that when the remaining funds ($ 39.52 million) in the Hardship Assistance Fund are used up, the council will likely have access to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to accommodate all Navajos who make the first round of Hardship Assistance in excess of $ 438 per person.
But that too would have to be regulated by law by the Council.
Regardless, Begay has estimated that it will take an additional $ 600 million to accommodate 399,494 enrolled Navajos with a new round of ARPA hardship support of $ 2,000 per adult and $ 1,000 per child, which is roughly one-third of the $ 1.9 billion ARPA funding allocated to the Navajos equals nation.