Council approves direct payments from CARES fund


With any luck, the Navajo people and their 110 chapters might soon be eligible for direct financial relief from the remaining pot of $176 million in CARES Act money. That is, if President Jonathan Nez signs two bills that were passed by the Navajo Nation Council last Friday.

As of Sept. 21, $538 million of the $714 million Navajo CARES Act funds had been appropriated, with only $30 million spent and $12 million encumbered, leaving $176 million yet to be allocated.

Legislation No. 0201-20, sponsored by Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton (passed 21-0), adds $49 million to the CARES Fund Hardship Assistance Expenditure Plan that was adopted in Resolution CJY-67-20 and originally established with only $1,000.

The purpose of the Charles-Newton’s legislation is to provide emergency financial assistance, necessary to combat the effects of COVID-19 and mitigate the spread of the virus, to Navajo tribal members. “This money goes directly to the people,” said Charles-Newton. “We are all aware that our people are in a financial crisis and they need help. COVID-19 has affected every single Navajo person living on and off the reservation.”

No. 197-20, sponsored by Delegate Mark Freeland (passed 21-0), established the CARES Fund Chapter Distribution Expenditure Plan, which allocates $90 million to all chapters under the 50-50 formula (half divided equally among the chapters and half based on population), for COVID-19 humanitarian relief and response efforts.

The bill also includes $20 million for the controller’s office to handle disbursement of the funds through an online portal, $2 million to the Division of Community Development to help administer the funds, and $15 million for telecommunications and internet connectivity for chapters, for a total of $127 million.

$1,500 for adults, $500 for minors

The $49 million approved by Council in No. 0201-20 would be available to all 327,726 Navajo enrolled tribal members (CIB required) on and off the reservation through an application process that would be managed through the controller’s office.

Source: The Navajo Times