Printing starts on tribe's ARPA hardship assistance checks, priority given to older adults

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

UPDATE: The Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President announced on Feb. 28 a change in location for the outreach event in Tucson. The event will be held at Arizona Forge at Roy Place, 44 N. Stone Ave. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 3 and March 4.

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Office of the Controller started to print ARPA hardship assistance checks this week, according to a Feb. 15 update by the tribal president's office.

While the printing process has commenced, the controller's office is prioritizing payments to tribal members aged 60 and over who previously received help from the tribe's hardship assistance program.

Controller's office:Navajo Nation CARES Act hardship assistance checks in the mail

"The office will continue processing checks as quickly as possible and will work weekends, once again, to expedite the relief checks," a news release the president's office issued on Feb. 15 states.

The goal is to have checks to all recipients in the mail by the end of February. Payments will automatically go to enrolled members who received help in either 2020 or 2021 under a separate relief program called the Navajo Nation CARES Fund Hardship Assistance.

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Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, left center, and Vice President Myron Lizer, right center, hold on Jan. 4 the tribal council resolution they signed to establish the ARPA hardship assistance program.

However, checks might be delayed for recipients who have outstanding issues such as changing their mailing address, the release states.

Releasing checks to older tribal members first is based on cultural teachings that center on respecting the elderly, tribal President Jonathan Nez said in the release.

"We are meeting with the Office of the Controller nearly every day, to work through many challenges and to expedite the processing of the ARPA hardship assistance checks," Nez said. "Please remain patient and please be respectful to the staff members who are working hard to help our people."

This latest hardship assistance is funded by a portion of the $2 billion allocated to the tribe from the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal coronavirus relief package.

More: Navajo Nation president approves new phase of hardship assistance program for eligible tribal members

Tribal leaders approved the ARPA hardship assistance plan to provide financial relief to enrolled tribal members struggling to cover living expenses, setting payment amounts at $2,000 for adults and $600 for children.

Enrolled members who did not apply for assistance in 2020 or 2021 may submit applications before the Dec. 30 deadline.

Applications are available at the controller's office website, www.nnooc.org.

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The Navajo Nation president's office released on Feb. 15 details about the ARPA hardship assistance program and tribal enrollment.

Outreach services in urban areas

The president's office released an updated schedule to help Navajos in Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City and Denver in applying for hardship assistance or enrollment.

No checks will be distributed at the events, according to the president's office.

Employees from the controller's office and the vital records office will be at the following places:

  • Phoenix: Steele Indian School Park Memorial Hall, 300 E. Indian School Road, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18
  • Tucson: Tucson Indian Center, 160 N. Stone Ave., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 3 and March 4
  • Albuquerque: Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute, 9169 Coors Blvd. NW, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 7 and April 8
  • Salt Lake City: Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, 120 W. 1300 S St., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 14 and April 15
  • Denver: Denver Indian Center Inc., 4407 Morrison Road, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 28 and April 29

Although vital records staff can help with the enrollment process, they cannot issue the Certificate of Indian Blood on site because the applicant's information must be verified first by the office, according to the president's office.

For information about enrollment, contact the Office of Vital Records and Identification at 928-871-6386 or www.novri.navajo-nsn.gov.

Individuals "seeking to enroll with the Navajo Nation, obtain a copy of their CIB or update their tribal enrollment information will be required to provide current and original records of birth/death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees or other court ordered documents," the release from the president's office states.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.