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Navajo CARES Act
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Navajo eligible to apply for CARES Act pandemic assistance

A hand-painted sign points the way to the Chilchinbeto Church of the Nazarene in Chilchinbeto, Ariz., on the Navajo reservation at sunrise on Sunday, April 19, 2020. The Navajo reservation has some of the highest rates of coronavirus in the country. If Navajos are susceptible to the virus' spread in part because they are so closely knit, that's also how many believe they will beat it. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Enrolled members of the Navajo Nation can now apply for federal CARES Act funding through a new website. 

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Navajo Nation particularly hard, resulting in strict lockdowns and resource donations to fight the spread. 

On Monday, the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller launched a website where members can apply for assistance through the CARES Act Hardship Assistance Program. However, its first day came with high traffic demands. 

A message on the site reads: 

Thank you for your interest in the CARES Fund Hardship Assistance Program. We are currently experiencing high volume of portal applications… If you are experiencing delays in response time, please try again later today or tomorrow.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez urged everyone applying to be patient and respectful as they resolve website complications.

“With an initiative of this magnitude, there will be issues that come up and it will take some time to resolve those issues,” said President Nez. 

In a statement, the office said the program does not operate ‘first come, first serve’; “every application will be provided equal consideration.” They will accept applications through Nov. 30. 

Additionally, paper applications are available for Navajo elders, persons with special needs, and those who can’t file online. Those applications can be found at various chapter locations

The Office of Controller will pick up the paper applications from those chapters on a weekly basis until the end of the application period. 

Assistance with the CARES Act application 

Nez encouraged everyone to assist a family member who may need help filling out an application.

“If you have elderly parents or grandparents who need assistance to complete and submit an application, we encourage you to assist them by either submitting an application online or at your local chapter or one of the alternative locations,” said Nez. 

Nation staff members, including those fluent in Navajo, will be available to assist people wanting to submit an application at local chapters. 

Nez advised everyone to apply online if possible, but if they must visit a local chapter to wear a mask and practice physical distancing. 

“It is very important that we keep our guard up to protect our elders and those with underlying conditions,” said Nez. “Please be safe and comply with CDC guidelines if you must complete your application in-person.”