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Several stuck waiting after Navajo Nation rental assistance event closed to heat

Posted at 6:06 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 11:52:22-04

PHOENIX — It was a frustrating day for many Navajo families in the Valley seeking financial assistance from the Navajo Nation.

Braving the blazing sun for hours at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix, hundreds waited in line at the Navajo Nation ARPA, CIB and ERAP Technical Assistance Drive, where they could pick up their hardship checks through the Office of the Controller, enrolling with the Navajo Nation, and seeking emergency rental assistance.

Although some did get the assistance they needed, many were turned away a little after noon on Wednesday, due in part to the heat along with safety concerns for staff members and others that were threatened by some in line.

The operation, which was intended to continue all week, will cease until further notice, upsetting many in line like Shane Tsosie from Flagstaff.

"It's very discouraging because it seems like everybody on the Navajo Nation is disorganized with how they handle their business," Tsosie says.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez spoke to ABC15 about the fiasco, saying the large turnout was unexpected.

"We underestimated the big turnout in Phoenix because people are driving from even the Navajo Nation to get their assistance," Nez states.

President Nez proclaims to those waiting for assistance to be understanding and that help is coming.

"I know it's going to be difficult for a lot of our relatives to recognize this, but we just ask for your patience," Nez says. "300,000 of our Navajo people have received their assistance, their hardship checks, and we're looking at about under 100,000 to go."

Nez also says that he's encouraging the Office of the Controller to bring more staff to assist with the program and work on developing a permanent office at the Phoenix Indian Center so that Navajo families in the Valley can seek assistance without going to Window Rock.

Click here for more information on the Navajo Nation ARPA Hardship Assistance program.

For updated records, including enrolling with the Navajo Nation and obtaining a copy of a CIB, click here.

Click here for more information on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, click here.