The Cherokee Nation reopened its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance program Monday to help families who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
Tribal leaders are adding $7 million in relief funds to reach more Cherokee families.
Cherokee Nation leaders said this money is a lifeline of critical help for their citizens. They said the tribe has already helped thousands of Cherokees through this program since the fall.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said last year they used $5 million in federal funding to help Cherokee citizens directly. He said this additional $7 million will boost that program.
"Just through half of the day today, we've had over 4,600 applications, and so if everyone's funded who applies, that's 2.3 million dollars. So, there's a great need for assistance out there, and we're going to try and meet the need for our citizens as always," Hoskin Jr. said.
Hoskin Jr. said this time, they're using an online application. The funding is for those who can't meet their financial needs because of COVID-19. Cherokee citizens could get up to $500 from it.
"A lot of the need has been hours cut by their employer, or completely displaced from employment, maybe laid off. Some of it is food insecurity, so the rising cost of food with families that have very fixed income and not much of an ability to shift here or there to make up for those needs," Hoskin Jr. said.
He said they're also hearing from citizens struggling to make rent payments.
"We're going to try to meet every need that we can, that's what Cherokee people do. During the pandemic it's important that we all work together and part of that is the government of the Cherokee Nation helping with direct financial assistance," Hoskin Jr. said.
The Cherokee Nation will be taking applications until December 1 or until all the money in the program has been distributed.