• Lani Hansen

HHS continues to provide services amid COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Apr 4


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.


Burial Assistance


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


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.

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