On Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, Navajo Nation President Nez signed the Council’s resolution that approved the use of $14 Million in Unspent CARES funds of the $2.1 Billion in Navajo Nation ARPA funds for Hardship Assistance for elders.
The Council approved $14M for Hardship Assistance for elders and $557 Million for Hardship Assistance for adults and minors during a special session Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021.
My reporting on the Council’s approval of the $14M and $557M are posted on my 12.29.21 blog “$16M FOR NAVAJO HARDSHIP ASSISTANCE FOR ELDERS ON NAVAJO COUNCIL AGENDA, 10 AM, 12.29.21 (http://www.dineresourcesandinfocenter.org/16m-for-navajo…/)
I also posted the Council Resolution approving the $14M and Nez’s memo signing off on the Council Resolution for $14M.
Nez stated in his Thursday afternoon press release that he had acted on the Council Resolution appropriating $557M from the Navajo Nation’s $2.5 Billion in ARPA funds for Hardship Assistance because he had not received the Council Resolution. That was at 4:16 pm, Thursday.
Stay Safe & Healthy. May Peace Prevail on Mother Earth☃️❄️☃️
PRESS RELEASE, 12.30.21 – President Nez and Vice President Lizer approve CARES Act Hardship Assistance for Navajo elders
Nearly $16 million in CARES Act funds will provide approximately $300 dollars per eligible person 60 years and older. Elders will not need to re-apply for the hardship funds. The Office of the Controller is beginning the payment process and elders can anticipate receiving the check payment in the next week or two.
“We love and cherish our elders very much. This pandemic has created many challenges for everyone, especially our elder parents and grandparents.
Throughout this pandemic, we’ve been to all 110 chapters and 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. We strongly encourage our people to use the funds for essential items, supplies, bills, and other expenses that provide financial relief and help your loved ones overcome this modern-day monster known as COVID-19,” said President Nez.
The Council also approved a separate resolution on Wednesday, for Hardship Assistance using American Rescue Plan Act funds, which would provide $2,000 per adult and $600 per minor for enrolled members. The Office of the President and Vice President is awaiting the delivery of the resolution from the Legislative Branch, as of Thursday.
“With the approval of this resolution, we are helping our grandmas and grandpas who often rely on a fixed monthly income and many who continue to struggle financially due to the pandemic. We continue to pray and work with our health experts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to hopefully lessen the burden on our frontline workers. Our elders are the heart and soul of our families and our communities. As leaders, we have to support them in every way we can,” said Vice President Lizer.
In accordance with federal requirements, CARES Act funds are required to be used no later than Dec. 31, 2021. The Office of the Controller is working diligently to process the hardship assistance checks, which will be distributed by mail in approximately one or two weeks.
PRESS RELEASE, 12.30.21 – Navajo Nation Council approves $557 Million for Second Hardship Assistance Checks for the Navajo People
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Yesterday, the 24th Navajo Nation Council passed Emergency Legislation No. 0263-21 with an amendment allocating $557,000,000 million of Navajo Nation Fiscal Recovery Funds (NNFRF) to send a second hardship assistance check for over 345,000 qualified Navajo people. Speaker Seth Damon appointed Madame Chair Eugenia Charles-Newton to serve as Pro Tem Speaker for the special session hosted virtually in Window Rock, Ariz.
The Office of the Controller (OOC) will provide financial hardship assistance, directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, for eligible Navajo people age 18 and over not to exceed $2,000 per applicant for up to 250,000 qualifying individuals.
“It has been over 8 months since President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act and our Navajo people should not suffer another day without knowing how their government will assist them as they suffer from grief, mental health and financial hardship. We have all been affected by the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and the people appreciate their Council Delegates standing up for them now. A second allocation of hardship assistance payments of $2,000 per adult and $600 per child will allow our relatives to purchase essential winter supplies like gasoline, firewood, and food now,” said Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty (Cove, Toadlena/Two Grey Hills, Red Valley, Tsé’ałnáoozt’i’í, Sheep Springs, Beclabito, Gad’ii’áhí/Tó Kǫ’í).
Legislation No. 0263-21 also provides $600 in hardship assistance to minors below 18 years old for up to 95,000 qualifying individuals. This financial assistance can be used to purchase personal protective equipment, pay utility bills, for rental and mortgage payments, and any educational related expenses for students.
“We must have compassion in our hearts and listen directly to the people who need immediate help. We have taken action now in the best interest of our grandmas, grandpas, our single parents, and our students who need support. Our intention is to provide direct relief to all families so they can simply pay for their water and electric bills, buy groceries, car payments, hay for livestock and more,” said Madame Chairwoman Eugenia Charles-Newton (Shiprock).
Individuals do not have to reapply for the second allocation of hardship assistance payments. Any future check disbursements will follow the financial process previously approved by the Office of the Controller at: https://www.nnooc.org/
“If President Jonathan Nez signs this emergency legislation into law, the Navajo Nation Council will work with the Executive Branch to invest over $577 million in direct hardship assistance checks to thousands of Navajo people. This is their money allocated for direct COVID-19 relief. Your Council Delegates have heard directly from our elders, parents, youth, and many community leaders who have been requesting immediate help all year. Utilize this assistance for home repairs, pay the water and utility bills, for college tuition costs, or save it for your future needs. We commend the leadership of Honorable Amber Kanazbah Crotty for being an outspoken champion for our elders, the young people, our single parent families, and the LGBTQ+ community,” said Speaker Seth Damon (Bááhaalí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Tséyatoh).
Two weeks ago, the Naabik’íyáti’ Committee just concluded a two-day work session with the Executive Branch to discuss Legislation No. 0257-21 allocating $1.2 billion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the construction of over 10,000 infrastructure and economic development projects. This included the $207 million for hardship assistance already agreed upon by the Executive Branch.
Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown (Dennehotso, Kayenta, Chííłchinbii’tó) said that the Navajo people have been hurt on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level from this monster called COVID-19. The emergency legislation will uplift the lives of so many vulnerable relatives, many of whom are homeless on the streets today. “This is the people’s money, and it should bring them each some sort of hope during troubling financial times. Understand that the Council has the best interests of our Navajo people in mind as we allocate all ARPA funds in a responsible way,” he added.
Earlier this year, the Navajo Nation received approximately $2.1 billion in ARPA funds from the Biden Administration to respond to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of our Diné families need supplemental financial relief, especially those who live without running water or electricity. And for our relatives, many are students, who reside off the Navajo Nation who have high rental fees that exceed their cost of living. These ARPA funds belong to our people, their chapters, and their communities. Let them spend this money as they like, it is theirs, and the Navajo government is now acting on their behalf,” said Council Delegate Charlaine Tso (Mexican Water, Tółikan, Teec Nos Pos, Aneth, Red Mesa).
Additional answers to questions regarding new hardship assistance payments will be made available in the near future by the OOC.
Resources and Development Chairman Rickie Nez (T’iistsoh Sikaad, Nenahnezad, Upper Fruitland, Tsé Daa K’aan, Newcomb, San Juan) applauded the historic action taken by the Navajo Nation Council by passing the legislation. “The outcry from our Navajo people needing immediate assistance was loud and clear. We did the right thing today for hundreds of families,” he added.
Emergency Legislation No. 0263-21 was passed by the Navajo Nation Council by a vote of 18 in favor, 2 opposed. Pro Tem Speaker Eugenia Charles-Newton has 10 days after the session to certify the legislation. Following this process, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has 10 days to approve or veto the bill.
The Navajo Nation Fiscal Recovery Fund Office has created a website to share all ARPA updates and information for the public at: www.NavajoNationARPA.org