CN extends deadline for elder utility help, economic aid

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/24/2020 10:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation has extended the application period to Sept. 11 for qualifying Cherokee elders age 62 and older to apply for COVID-19 relief assistance. 

As part of the CN Respond, Recover and Rebuild spending plan, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. recently said the $45 million elder assistance initiative will help Cherokee elders and those in need with costs related to COVID-19 relief, including food security and utility expenses.  

“At Cherokee Nation, putting elders first is simply our way of life. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities in March, we have supplied more than 73,000 Cherokee elders and families with food as part of the largest emergency food distribution program in Cherokee history,” said Hoskin. “Now, with new federal dollars in our COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild spending plan, we can do even more to help our elders during these uncertain times. This $45 million will not only ensure critical tribal services are able to avoid budget cuts to elder programs, but it will greatly expand what we can do for our elders for the rest of the calendar year.” 

As part of the initiative, the tribe is providing $1,200 in utility bill assistance to low-income Cherokee elders living within the CN reservation boundaries. The Elder Utility Assistance program will increase the traditional elder utility payment known as the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program to help elders focus their fixed income on other needs. The eligibility and benefit level for the tribe’s regular LIHEAP is unchanged for other citizens. 

The CN is also offering the Elder Safety Assistance program, a $400 direct economic-assistance stipend to any Cherokee elder age 62 or older, regardless of income level and regardless of where they live. 

Eligible Cherokee elders can sign up for the Elder Utility Assistance and Elder Safety Assistance programs at cherokee.org under the Respond, Recover and Rebuild Elder Assistance link. 

“Although most of our Human Services programs are often limited to Cherokee citizens living in our reservation boundaries and may be based on income, we know Cherokee elders all across the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “That’s why we’ve committed to the $400 stipend and making sure it is available regardless of where Cherokee elders live. Together, we hope these two initiatives will make recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact just a little easier and less burdensome during these difficult times.” 

Human Services is committing other funds in the plan to address emergency elder needs relating to housing, food and a variety of emergency needs for Cherokees of any age who are experiencing extreme economic hardships related to COVID-19. The department will partner with the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation and Career Services to meet as many needs as possible through the end of the calendar year. 

Applications for the Cherokee Elder Safety Assistance and Elder Utility Assistance programs must be received before 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 11. Those needing help with the online application process or information about Human Services programs can call 918-453-5464. 

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