The Cherokee Nation reopens its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance program on Monday, Jan. 25, to help qualified Cherokee citizens economically affected by COVID-19.

The tribe has served more than 4,000 Cherokee citizens with COVID-19 emergency financial assistance since Sept. 1, and is adding an additional $7 million in COVID-19 relief funds to bolster the program and reach even more Cherokee households.

The application must be completed online and can be found at www.cherokee.org beginning Jan. 25.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. first announced late last summer that the Cherokee Nation was injecting $5 million of federal relief funds into the tribe's Human Services department to help Cherokee citizens economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The additional $7 million will help qualifying Cherokees impacted by COVID-19 who are unable to meet financial needs due to the pandemic with up to $500 per household based on individual needs. There is no income limit. Applications will be taken until Dec. 1 or until funds for the program have been expended.

"The Human Services department has been there to help thousands of Cherokees in need during the worst public health crisis in generations. We know that for many Cherokee citizens, the Human Services department is a lifeline of critical assistance, and that's why we injected $5 million in federal COVID assistance funds into the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance program late last summer," Hoskin said. "The federal government's last-minute decision in late December to give tribes more time to use those federal CARES Act funds to assist tribal citizens has allowed us to reopen this program and to add the additional funding. We know this Emergency Assistance program will now be able to help more Cherokees overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Preference will be given to qualifying Cherokee citizens who were age 18 and older as of Jan. 1, 2021, living in the Cherokee Nation reservation who can demonstrate an emergency need due to COVID-19. Applicants cannot have received funds through the same COVID-19 Emergency Assistance program through the tribe's Human Services department within the last six months.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Cherokee families in different ways, but for many, the past 10 months have led to unexpected economic hardships," said District 9 Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh. "I know from talking to Cherokee citizens in my district just how important the Cherokee Nation's Respond, Recover and Rebuild COVID-19 relief funds have been in giving them a hand during these difficult times. It is a relief to know we are now able to reopen the program and add more funding so we can help even more Cherokee families weather this pandemic."

The online application can be found by clicking the red COVID-19 Emergency Assistance graphic at www.cherokee.org. Cherokees needing assistance with the online application or who have questions about eligibility can call 918-453-5464 during normal business hours Monday-Friday.

Funding to those who qualify will be processed electronically or by paper check after application information has been verified. Incomplete or incorrect information on an application can lead to delayed processing.

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