Several million dollars in pandemic relief money is still available to Tlingit and Haida tribal members.
There are two relief programs, worth up to $1,000 in one-time payments to households with tribal members financially impacted by the pandemic. Tribal members are eligible regardless of their income.
The family home and utility expenses program is for rent, mortgage and utilities. And the family education and retraining expenses program is intended to help with home schooling, loss of employment or for new job-related education.
Melinda Douglas coordinates these programs for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Douglas said the Central Council set aside $8 million for these relief programs, funded by last year’s federal CARES Act. About $2.6 million has been paid out so far to about 3,500 households.
Douglas said about 200 pending applications they received months ago are incomplete or require some follow up. Her office hasn’t been able to reach those applicants.
“Our CARES department workers, when they follow up with someone, they call from a private number or a blocked number,” Douglas said. “I think that’s why some of them don’t answer.”
The application period is open until December. It was extended after Congress passed a new relief bill at the end of 2020.