HHS continues to provide services amid COVID-19 pandemic
Updated: Apr 4, 2022
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
EDITOR, GIDUWA CHEROKEE NEWS
TAHLEQUAH - The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Health and Human Services Department has continued to serve tribal members amid the COVID-19 pandemic, offering several programs to assist Keetoowahs that may have fallen on hard times.
For some specific programs and how they can assist tribal members, read below.
Emergency Rental Assistance
The Emergency Rental Assistance program works to prevent homelessness by assisting households that are unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Examples of ERA program services include paying impending or past due rent or paying for a hotel stay to avoid homelessness.
To be an eligible household, an individual must live in UKB tribal jurisdiction and either qualify for unemployment, has experienced a reduction in household income or experienced other financial hardships due to COVID-19, or demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Additionally, the household income must be at or below 80 percent of the area median.
The ERA program prioritizes households where an individual who has been unemployed for 90 days prior to application for assistance and households with income at or below 50 percent of the area median income.
Assistance is limited to exclusive Keetoowahs unless a member of another tribe can show proof of denial from their enrolled tribe.
The dwelling must be a rental property with a landlord, as funds do not assist with rent or lease to own properties or business properties.
If approved, households can be provided rental assistance for up to three months at a time, with up to 12 months of assistance available. An additional three months can be provided if needed to ensure housing stability, dependent on funding availability.
In addition to paying monthly rental costs, the program can also help families with security deposits when transitioning to a rental property.
Households on the brink of homelessness also have the option to be placed in a hotel temporarily until housing is secured. Requirements for this part of the program include providing HHS with proof of at least three job searches a week, to be turned in one day before checkout in order to secure an additional hotel stay.
To apply, members must complete an application and provide a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, social security cards and driver’s licenses for all individuals in the household, their UKB tribal card or other tribal card for those outside UKB membership, income verification documents, a completed individual self-sufficiency plan, the landlord’s W-9 and a copy of the rental lease agreement.
To receive an application or for additional questions, contact Health and Human Services Advocate Robert Downing via email at rdowning@ukb-nsn. gov, or call the main UKB line at 918-871-2800.
Keetoowahs interested in receiving assistance with rent or lease to own properties should contact the UKB Housing Department at 918-871-2773.
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians works with families as a source of comfort during a difficult time by assisting with burial or cremation costs up to $3,000.
The program is income based. For the family to receive assistance, the deceased must have either been a Keetoowah or other member of a federally recognized tribe, have lived within the tribe’s jurisdictional area and have possessed no bank assets, life insurance or burial insurance.
Health and Human Services carries a list of approved funeral home vendors.
For more information about the programs or to receive the list of our vendors, please call the main UKB line at 918- 871-2800.
General Assistance is a gap program that provides $180 per month towards basic needs for individuals that are between jobs or those unable to work and in the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
The program requires recipients that are able to work to develop and agree to an Individual Self-Sufficiency Plan, which outlines specific steps the individual will take to reach the goal of employment.
Recipients are also asked to participate in a job search activities and requires a job search form to be submitted to the social services advocate for the next assistance check to be submitted.
Those that cannot work and are pursuing SSDI or SSI are not required to participate in job search activities, but must provide updates from Social Security on the status of their application.
Applicants must also concurrently apply for financial assistance from other state, tribal, county, local, or other federal agency programs. It is situated as a last chance program and requires applicants to apply to other sources of assistance, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding for households with dependent children.
For more information on the program and additional program requirements, please call the UKB main line at 918- 871-2800 and ask to speak with Health and Human Services Advocate Kaleb Proctor.
Work Related Cost Assistance
The United Keetoowah Band has also created a separate fund with American Rescue Plan Funds to assist members with work related costs that would otherwise create a barrier towards going back to work.
These costs can include assisting members with paying for new work uniforms and shoes, purchasing gas to allow the member to get to and from work until their first paycheck and minor car repairs.
To apply for funding, contact the UKB main line at 918-871-2800 and ask to speak with the Health and Human Services Department.