Two thirds of COVID emergency aid has gone to off-reservation Tribal members

MISSION – Some Tribal members from as far away as Virginia and Colorado are among those receiving CARES Act emergency assistance through the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

This CARES Act funding ($350,000), which has been allocated through the CTUIR Incident Command Team, is not the same as the recently approved grant from the Oregon Health Authority ($500,000).

The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Program offers support and financial services to families, elders, veterans and workforce development participants for shelter (rent), food, utilities and transportation.

Tribal members must meet eligibility requirements related to COVID-19. The criteria includes being recently laid off, furloughed or hours reduced because of the pandemic; increased utility and food bills due to children’s distance learning; be a college student or a Tribal member that has moved back or relocated to the Umatilla Indian Reservation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since applications for this CARES Act funding began in April, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has completed assistance for 63 tribal members living off the reservation for a total of $97,424, according to Kathleen Elliott, DCFS Workforce Development Coordinator.

Additionally, DCFS has provided emergency assistance for 37 local Tribal members from Adams, Athena, Hermiston and the Pendleton-Mission area) for a total of $37,893.

Money is distributed directly to vendors; there are no cash disbursements. The average amount paid out to the 100 Tribal member requests is $1,347.

One family of five from Portland has received more than $4,200 with more than 80 percent of that going for rent. Six other families have received more than $2,100 each. Those included a family of three from Roseburg, a family of four from Portland, a family of three from Corvallis, and three families from Pendleton – one single person, one family of four and the other with six.

DCFS currently is working with eight more Tribal members who live off the reservation and two others who live locally. Two of those requests are for nearly $3,400 from a family of four in Virginia and a family of three in Colorado. The rent for the family of three in Denver is $2,250 per month.

The funds have also paid for food distributions to Tribal members and Reservation residents from April through September.
Elliott said recipients have been “very grateful,” and DCFS still sends them a letter after providing assistance to remind them that their bills were paid by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.