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Chapters receive only 25 hardship assistance applications

By Marley Shebala

Staff writer navajo1@gallupindependent.com

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Paul Begay is an elder and disabled, and he was among 12 individuals who are 65 years old and older and/or have special needs who braved snowy, cold weather to get a Navajo Nation Hardship Assistance Program application Monday.

But Begay and the 11 other individuals left the Lupton, Arizona, Chapter without an application because Lupton, like most of the 110 chapters on the Navajo Nation, had received only 25 hardship assistant applications.

Monday was the day the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller made applications available for one week only to enrolled Navajo members 65 years old and older and those with special needs or the mentally and physically challenged for a maximum of $1,500 in Navajo Nation CARES hardship assistance.

The applications open to all other enrolled Navajo members Nov. 2. The application deadline is Nov. 30. The maximum hardship assistance amount is $1,500 for individuals 18 years old and older and $500 for minors.

The first batch of hardship assistance checks are expected to be in the mail in early December.

Application shortage

The Office of the Controller announced in prior news releases that applications would be available online on the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller website and via hard copies at each of the 110 chapters Monday. On Monday, Navajo Nation Controller Pearline Kirk said in a news release that the controller's office is aware of the shortage of hard copy applications and office staff are working quickly to provide an additional 200,000 applications to all 110 chapters.

Kirk explained that the controller's office was only able to get 3,000 hard copy applications for the chapters over the weekend. She noted that the printer is working to print the remainder of the office's application order quickly.

“Additional hard copy applications are on their way; 200,000 applications will be made available to chapters,” Kirk said.

Preventing fraud

Kirk added that the controller's office, in an effort to prevent fraud, requested that the applications be printed on special paper, much like a tri-fold ballot that requires time to procure and to pre-number the applications, which will be scanned as they are received.

But before the chapters receive additional applications, the controller's office has provided a way for chapters to print applications until more are made available Tuesday, she said.

"This application process is not first come, first served,” Kirk said. “No matter when you apply, your application will be given equal treatment. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this time.”

See Hardship application shortage, Page 5

Continued from Page 1

No answers from Window Rock

Begay seemed to have a lot of understanding and patience. As he talked about how he and his wife went to the Lupton Chapter full of hope and left frustrated, angry and sad with a multitude of questions, his voice was even and calm.

Begay let out a long sigh and said he called the Independent because no one in “Window Rock” or the Navajo Nation government was answering their phones or giving him answers.

He said he called Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer and was told by an executive office staff member that they weren't aware of what was happening with hardship assistance applications at the chapter level and that someone would check into the matter.

The Navajo Nation Division of Community Development, which is part of the Nez-Lizer administration, is where the administrative oversight of the 110 chapters is located.

Begay said he tried applying online, but he kept finding himself back at the same hardship assistance announcement and no application.

OPVP application aid

Kirk said the controller's office continues to urge family members, chapters, and senior citizens center staff to help elders and those with special needs to apply for hardship assistance.

Nez said in a news release Monday, "The Office of the President and Vice President, working in collaboration with the Controller's Office, will be assisting with application outreach efforts once more application forms are available, to help ensure that our Navajo elders and special needs citizens are provided the opportunity to ask questions and apply for the hardship assistance.

"This is the first time that the Navajo Nation has had funds for this specific purpose," he said. "With any initiative of this magnitude, there will be minor issues that arise, and we have to continue working together to resolve the issues and move forward. We ask everyone to be respectful of the Office of the Controller as they work hard to help our Navajo people.”

Nez and Lizer encouraged all Navajo Nation citizens to take the time to learn about the application process on the Office of the Controller's website, which also includes a Frequently Asked Questions and Answers page: www. nnooc.org/Documents/CARES%20Act/201020_OOC_ FAQ_N N %2 0 H a r d s h i p _Assistance_Program.p d f .

They also reminded all Navajo Nation residents and officials to follow Center for Disease Control guidelines when visiting chapters and interacting with chapter officials, to reduce any potential risks associated with COVID-19.

Nez and Lizer continued to urge everyone to wear a mask in public at all times, practice social distancing, wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer frequently, and avoid gatherings of five or more people.

The controller's office stated that chapters that have questions regarding the Hardship Assistance Program should email nncareshelp@nnooc.org and not the Navajo Division of Community Development.

For more information about the Hardship Assistance Program or the Chapter Distribution Program, visit www. nnooc.org/CARESHelp.html.

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