'Checks are coming': Navajo Nation carries on with COVID-19 hardship assistance payments

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — More than 112,000 checks have been cashed in the Navajo Nation program to provide financial relief to enrolled members due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An update this week from the Office of the Controller states that the Navajo Nation CARES Fund Hardship Assistance Program continues to mail checks to 293,000 applicants who qualified for assistance.

"We will be issuing in excess of 30,000 more checks this week with corresponding text messages to let members know their checks are coming. Please refrain from calling until after these checks have gone out and text messages have been sent, which will take place this week," Controller Pearline Kirk said.

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The program started sending checks on Jan. 18. So far 200,000 have been printed and mailed but the program reported that approximately 1,000 have been returned because they were undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service.

Kirk explained that if payment is returned, the applicant will be contacted by either text message or by telephone and provided further instructions.

Personnel are also attempting to correct mailing addresses, then reissue payments.

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Instructions are mailed with checks issued under the Navajo Nation CARES Fund Hardship Assistance Program.

The controller's office reminds the public that they have no control over the Postal Service or commercial banks and credit unions.

If there are check problems – for example, a name misspelled or damaged check – the program's support center can be reached by email NNCaresHelp@nnooc.org or by telephone at 833-282-7248.

In late January, the controller's office identified 370 checks that were accidently duplicated and mailed. That issue was resolved, the update states.

Support center inundated with calls

The program's support center continues to be overwhelmed by the number of telephone calls from applicants who are asking about the status of payments, which is delaying the center's ability to work with applicants who need to fix errors.

"If applicants have already received a text message update or notified that your check has been mailed, they are urged not to call the support center," the release states.

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The release adds that applicants should not call any tribal government offices or departments about the hardship assistance program or about applications.

"The support center is the only entity that is able to answer any questions regarding the hardship assistance program, any calls to other offices and departments will only reroute you back to the support center," the release states.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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