► How the Navajo Nation CARES Act Fund Hardship Assistance Program Works

On Oct. 9, 2020, the Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez approved Legislation 0201-20 (Resolution. No. CS-74 20) that added more than $49 million to the CARES Fund Hardship Assistance Expenditure Plan and approved Legislation No. 0197-20 (Resolution No. CS-73-20) that provides $90 million for Navajo Nation Chapters for additional coronavirus relief aid. Both are funded by the $714 million Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The Navajo Nation Council has been working on the CARES Act Hardship Assistance Program’s eligibility criteria and its application process since the passage of Legislative No. 0144-20 (Resolution No. CJY-67-20), which gives the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller the responsibility of distributing the monies from the funding programs to enrolled Navajo Nation tribal members.

What is the CARES Act Hardship Assistance Expenditure Plan?

The purpose of the CARES Act Hardship Assistance Expenditure Plan is to allow for the use and expenditure of $49,454,416 of Navajo Nation CARES Funds for emergency financial assistance to enrolled Navajo tribal members for the following;

  • Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Paying past due utility bills, rent, mortgages
  • Isolation expenses
  • Livestock related expenses
  • Education related expenses

These must have incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had to have happened since March 1, 2020. Enrolled Navajo Nation tribal members over the age of 18 are allowed up to $1,500 per person and up to $500 for members under the age of 18.

What is the Coronavirus Relief Funds?

The federal CARES Act, Title V, Section 5001, entitled “Coronavirus Relief Funds” requires these funds be used to cover:

  • Costs that incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Costs that were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020;
  • Costs incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends December 30, 2020 per US Dept of Treasury’s Coronavirus Relief Fund Guidance for State, Territorial, Local, and Tribal Governments.

Applications will be accepted until the deadline of December 15, 2020. The amount that each tribal member will receive will be determined based on need and funding availability at the time the application is approved subsequent to the application deadline.

The Navajo Nation CARES Act Fund Hardship Assistance Process:

The application process requires certain prerequisites in order to receive assistance. Here is what the application looks like thus far. The application process has 4 sections that are easy to fill out.

Section 1 asks who is applying and the applicant can for check either:

  • themselves or;
  • themselves and others (spouse, minors, dependent adults);
  • on behalf of an eligible member.

In Section 2 of the hardship application asks for your personal information:

  • Full name;
  • Current Address;
  • Email;
  • Phone number that you can be contacted at and;
  • How you want to be contacted;
  • Your preferred method of payment (mail check or pick up check) and;
  • Whether you want a single check or a check for each individual.

In Section 3 of the hardship application asks you to list all of recipients who live with you and who meet the definition of a ‘dependent’ under the federal tax filing criteria. This section also states eligibility requirements and how much can be allotted to each tribal Member. Like I said previously, members over the age of 18 can apply for up to $1,500 and members under the age of 18 can apply for up to $500. The amount you request is based off on demonstrated need. In this section you will have to give your:

  • Full name
  • Last four of your social security number;
  • Date of birth;
  • Demographic code,;
  • Relationship to applicant(s);
  • Amount requesting; and
  • Your chapter affiliation.

In Section 4 of the hardship application, it asks applicants to check all that apply, in which you must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Experienced loss of income due to unemployment, furlough, or layoff;
  • Experienced reduction in income from loss of work hours or decrease in the rate of pay due to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Had to purchase PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • You are able to pay past due utility bills as a result of economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You are unable to pay some or all rent or mortgage payments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You have had expenses related to isolation related to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You have had livestock related expenses incurred due to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You have had educated related expenses that were incurred due to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You have had OTHER economic hardship associated to COVID-19 pandemic.

What Now?

The Navajo Nation Office of the Controller is currently working on the application and the distribution process. Please check their website periodically to see when this becomes available online and if you have questions, email NNCaresHelp@nnooc.org. Please also check with your Chapter affiliation on their application process for their separate funding program as well.