2nd series of possible difficulty checks
On June 2, delegates Eugenia Charles-Newton and Vince James submitted a bill request to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to give each adult Diné enrolled $ 2,000 and each child $ 1,000 in help in case of difficulties.
Last fall, James and Charles-Newton also sponsored the resolution (CS-74-20) that funded the CARES Act’s hardship assistance spending plan, providing direct payments of $ 1,350 for adults. and $ 450 for children, which paid nearly $ 322 million to more than 293,000 claimants. .
During the hardship assistance request process, where registration was required, the Comptroller’s Office and Vital Records Office updated the nation’s membership count to approximately 327,000 to 400,000.
This increase is especially significant now that it positively impacted the nation’s first $ 1.86 billion ARPA allocation last week, which was based on tribal population data.
According to James, the new hardship aid bill is being drafted by the Office of the Legislative Counsel and is one of the first proposals underway to spend part of the $ 1.86 billion in direct aid. to the Navajo people.
“They are overwhelmed,” he said. “We have heard many proposals from many ministries across the country. We all submit and abandon legislation, so it all depends on when the legislation is ready in order to move the process forward.
A request for an update from President Seth Damon on the state of ARPA planning and legislation has not been answered.
James said the new ARPA spending guidelines were what prompted him and Charles-Newton to initiate the bill.
Assistance to individual households, small businesses and nonprofits adversely affected by the pandemic is also permitted under ARPA, as are infrastructure needs related to the pandemic and additional bonuses paid to employees. who perform essential work.
Additionally, the number of applicants for CARES Act Hardship Assistance indicated that a large number of Navajo needed and benefited from the funds, which were used for a variety of purposes.
“I received messages from many people who were very grateful for the help in times of difficulty and explained how it had helped them financially,” said James.
James said he received comments from people who said they used their hardship payments to help install water pipes, buy new generators or solar panels and batteries to help with electricity in the home.
Others, especially in urban areas, have used the money to pay off bills such as rent and utilities, as well as other living expenses.
Many people were very grateful to the leaders, including the Board and the President, for passing and approving the CARES hardship legislation, he said.
There are other applicants who still have not received their hardship help checks, which could be related to inconsistencies with their CIB or other personal information, or where additional documentation is required. and still needs to be resolved, James said.
“I am doing my best to try to help these families,” he said.
James asked the Navajo people to pray for the leadership to move forward in a positive way with the decision to spend the ARPA fund.
“A point eight billion dollars is a lot of money to use up in a short period of time,” he said.
He said people can contact him and their delegates to share their thoughts on the hardship legislation.
According to the Comptroller’s Office website, as of June 9, the total of $ 714 million in CARES law funds has been budgeted for: hardship aid ($ 341.7 million), public health (62 , 5 million), broadband / telecommunications ($ 53.9 million), payroll support ($ 42.1 million). million), power line projects ($ 17.9 million), water projects ($ 39.3 million), solar projects ($ 12.9 million), economic development ($ 28.6 million) $), Chapters ($ 28.1 Million), Games ($ 24.6 Million), Comptroller’s Office ($ 16.3 Million), Personal Protective Equipment ($ 7.7 Million), Maintenance of facilities ($ 6.5 million) and care packages ($ 6.2 million).
All unspent funds in these areas were to be returned to the CARES Disability Assistance Fund in accordance with resolution CJY-67-20.
This leaves open the possibility that those who have not had the opportunity to apply for CARES hardship assistance or who have been put on a waiting list could still do so, but this would require additional legislation.
CARES law funds must be spent by the extended deadline of December 31, 2021, and ARPA funds must be spent by December 31, 2024.