By YVETTE TUELL
Tribal Public Affairs
FORT HALL — The federal funding available to tribes for Coronavirus relief is now flowing into the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal departments.
The funding amounts are not included in the $13.7 million the Tribes received from the US Treasury Title V of the CARES Act. The following departments and programs have received federal and private funding for COVID-19 related needs.
Tribal Health & Human Services Dept: $2,010,506; HRSA Community Clinic: $52,496.00, $540,200 and $120,349 = $713,045; Victims Assistance Program $15,832; 477/Community Services Block Grant $14,445; 477/General Assistance: $65,045; 477/ LIHEAP: $204,592; Nutrition: $88,920 and $40,940 = $129,860; Tribal Dept of Transportation: $132,919 and $233,453 = $366,372; THOP $25,000; Tribal Housing Authority: $417,000.
TRIBAL HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (THHS)
During the COVID-19 pandemic many tribes across the nation were informed of various grants explicitly for Tribes. In March, the THHS started applying for and receiving various funding, with the latest grant awarded on May 27. THHS is working with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Indian Health Services (IHS) Departments. Some of the fund has been in the form of grants, and other are additional supplemental funding. The funding from IHS is part of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ Title I, 638 contracts with IHS, and is released through amendments to the Annual Funding Agreement. The total amount received from all of these funding sources is $2,010,506. The funding will be utilized for a broad range of preventative activities, including Personal Provider Equipment (PPE) and equipment for staff and patients. THHS continues to actively seek grants and strategically plan how funds can best be utilized.
SHOSHONE-BANNOCK COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER (HRSA)
HRSA received three awards in the amount of $52,496.00, $540,200, and $120,349 from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The funds must be expended in one year. A three pronged approach is being implemented: 1. Community safety through more testing and education. The goal is to offer weekly on-demand testing where community members can receive COVID-19 tests and the anti-body tests with little red tape or wait times; 2. A safer Health Center through negative pressure rooms, adapting space for social distancing, telehealth, and an improved Information Technology infrastructure. An N95 mask fit testing supplies have been ordered and the Health Center will start offering it as a service to the community, focusing on first responders; 3. Preparing for a future with COVID-19. The Community Health Center is in the process of acquiring a specialized mobile medical clinic which can be used during this pandemic outbreak as well as during cold and flu season to enhance social distancing and avoid cross contamination.
The measures come with behind the scene costs, such as increased bio-hazard waste disposal expenses, increased staffing costs, costs of mobile clinic unit deployment, increased personal protective equipment for staff and patients, social distancing services and software such as Zoom, purchasing a (reliable) point of care testing machine for COVID-19 testing in the clinic and all the related testing supply costs.
The HRSA clinic was also notified on Thursday, May 28, of a new award from a competitive HRSA grant to provide a van to provide mobile testing at local reservation districts. More information will be forthcoming as the grant funding is accepted and details are worked out.
Chris Waterhouse said the start dates are yet to be determined, budgets are still being finalized with the funding agency and it must go through tribal processes.
VICTIMS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (VAP)
The VAP received $15,832, through the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA). The funding will be applied to COVID-19 related expenses for the program’s individual victims. Timeline to use the funds is from March 27 through September 30, 2021.
477 HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT
The 477 Human Services Department has received notice and/or distribution of CARES Act COVID-19 funding and guidance for the following programs:
COMMUNITY SERVICES BLOCK GRANT (CSBG) CARES Funding $14,445 (pending). The program was authorized to provide services to a broader range of individuals by increasing income eligibility to 200% (from 125%) Federal Poverty Guidelines for members of Federally Recognized Tribes residing on or near the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The funding will also supports disaster recovery activities for low-income individuals and families, along with services such as: emergency basic living needs such as food, personal hygiene items, clothing, footwear, rental assistance and transportation. The funding must be expended by September 30, 2021.
TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF): Although no additional funding at this time is allocated to the TANF program, the program was authorized to increase eligibility to 200% (from 125%) of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for Shoshone-Bannock Tribal members residing on or near the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, and members of other Federally Recognized Tribes who reside on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. TANF provides a monthly cash assistance to eligible families and caretaker relatives for basic living needs. It requires a Personal Responsibility Contract, work participation, and school attendance for school-aged minors.
The TANF program also provides at-risk services for individuals, and was also authorized to increase eligibility to 300% (from 125%) of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, to increase the number of eligible families to assist them to meet needs that do not extend beyond a 90-day period.
WELFARE ASSISTANCE/GENERAL ASSISTANCE (GA) CARES Funding received $65,045. GA provides a monthly cash assistance to eligible individuals and timed-out TANF families for basic living needs. CARES funding will be utilized solely to address Coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, preparedness, and response in their service area. The GA program was also authorized to expand the number of individuals/families to receive services by increasing income eligibility to 200% (from 125%) Federal Poverty Guidelines for enrolled members of federally recognized tribes who reside on or near the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Waivers have been approved and funding is in effect for one year ending May 2021.
They encourage people who have previously applied, and if they were denied based on income eligibility, to reply more if they are in need. Applications for 477 services may be requested from Wynona Boyer, Administrative Representative at email@example.com, or by calling (208) 478-3898 or (208) 478-3975. Applications are also available at a Drop Box located on the South side of the 477 Offices at the Old Casino.
CONSUMER SERVICES: The Consumer Service Program received additional CARES fund, in the amount of $204,592, from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The main goal of the benefit is to help low income eligible clients with their energy bills during this pandemic. The Program will provide additional crisis services, for heating/cooling energy assistance needs, including electrical, gas or propane fuel. Depending on individual circumstances, people may be eligible for up to $500 to assist with energy bills. Please note that not everyone will qualify for the maximum amount, and that these additional funds will be available starting in June, instead of July. It is expected that the Consumer Service Program will be able to assist with at least 200 households. Anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that were laid off may be eligible for assistance because this is based off household income that is 150% below poverty guideline levels in the last month. Example: if an individual was making more than $2,500 in a month for a 2-person household and then in the last month , the individual only received only $500 from unemployment, that person would be eligible for LIHEAP energy assistance.
Please note if you were still getting a paycheck during the COVID-19 shutdown that is still counted as income. If that income is over federal poverty guidelines then you would not be eligible for LIHEAP assistance. Currently the Consumer Service Program has exhausted all funding for over-income Shoshone-Bannock tribal member assistance. The program’s priority is to serve the most vulnerable of populations with the resources that we have.
Currently, Idaho Power and Intermountain Gas are still in a moratorium for their customers. However, once that moratorium ends, those companies will pursue past due payments. They emphasize with the general membership to prioritize their per capita to their bills and energy assistance.
The Consumer Service Program has exhausted ALL funding from General Fund services and is currently limited to offering energy assistance. Currently, they have a food pantry that is available Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m., and will keep that going until that is exhausted. Please call 208-478-3709 or 208-339-6244 if you have any questions.
TRIBAL ELDERLY NUTRITION
The Tribal Nutrition and Caregiver Program provides supportive services including nutrition services to American Indian senior citizens. The Nutrition Program received CARES Act funding in the amount of $88,920, under the Nutrition Services for Native American Programs under Title VI of the Older Americans Act (OAA). Another grant award of $40,940 was provided from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, under the OAA Title VI. Nutrition program has until September 30 of 2021 to utilize the funding.
With the $40,940, the Nutrition Program will provide care packages of groceries, household items and PPE, so Tribal Elders can stay safe during the COVID-19 Stay at Home Order. Additional services provided including mental and physical health, and a Lending Closet to provide needed or requested items. This COVID-19 funding will also help with outreach to ensure the safety and needs of elders, including PPE, food, necessary packaging and supplies for takeout meals, handicap ramps and new tables and chairs for the Elderly dining room.
Tribal elders will continue to receive curbside takeout meals, and home delivery to elders who are unable to leave home due to illness or bed confinement, along with informational materials to update them about the COVID-19. For more information, call 208-478-3858 or 208-397-8651.
TRIBAL DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
The Transportation department has received COVID 19 funds from the Federal Transit Administration in the amount of $132,919, which can be utilized for operations, maintenance of transit vehicles, fuel, and to reimburse personnel costs while the operations were shut down because of the COVID-19. The funding will be used to purchase supplies, such as facemasks, hand sanitizers, gloves and other needs to get the buses up and ready to start carrying passengers. They have also been allowing their passengers to ride for free, so their drivers would not have to come in contact with possibly contamination through money passing hands. They will continue the free ride at least until June 15 and possibly longer. They have put out on their Facebook and the Tribes’ Facebook, some additional rules which include if you are sick do not ride the transit, and if you have face masks, wear them on the buses. If you do not have masks they have masks to give to riders. YOU CANNOT RIDE TRANSIT WITHOUT A MASK. They have also purchased plexi-glass to place in front of the transit and transportation office for the protection of the transit dispatcher and support staff at the transportation office.
In addition, as of Monday May 25, they were notified of funding they were awarded through the Idaho Transportation Department of Public Transit in the amount of $233,453 for continued and expanded operations of our evening and weekend transit service. Along with it they were notified of being awarded a matching $233,452 of CARES Act funds through the ITD Public Transit. They are still working on these funds. Once received the funds will also be used to purchase any needed disinfectant needs, sanitizers, masks if needed, or other cleaning materials. It also can be used to assist personnel if turn up positive for the coronavirus and have to stay home or if they have any other tribal wide shut down because of COVID.
SBT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTION (CDFI)
On May 6, the Idaho Community Foundation awarded $ 25,000 to the Shoshone Bannock Community Development Financial Institution in order to assist in food insecurity for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes Community during the CO VID-19 pandemic. The original grant application to the Foundation was in the amount of $ 5,500 but the Idaho Community Foundation reached out to the SBT CDFI to see if more money could be used in the community and was awarded $25,000. The funds was able to assist in providing food for 84 households with a total of 275 individuals within those homes and 91 children. Every household received basic budgeting along with gift cards to either Winco Foods or the Trading Post as part of the grant requirements. The food assistance was based off of household size and was provided in benefit amounts of anywhere from $200 to $500 per applicant. Applications were prioritized by Elder Preference (55+), High Risk COVID category and those who suffered job loss or job reduction because of COVID. The Shoshone Bannock CDFI would like to thank the Idaho Community Foundation for their generous donation in order to assist in combatting hunger for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes.
FORT HALL HOUSING AUTHORITY
On May 19, the Fort Hall Business Council approved the Fort Hall Housing Authority’s application to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES Act) in the amount of $415,251.
The amount was based on the Indian Housing Block Grant by a formula allocation. Proposed activities must be to prevent COVID-19, Prepare for COVID-19 or to Respond to COVID-19. As of June 2, the Housing Authority has not been notified by HUD on their application approval.
The Housing Authority proposed application was for six eligible activities:
• Implement special operations for the safety of employees while assisting their 198 low-income participants.
• Hiring a part-time outreach worker to check on the welfare of the elderly and vulnerable families.
• Expand Rental Assistance Program for 10 families that have been laid off during COVID-19.
• Purchase and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) for 198 Housing families and housing personnel.
• Utility Assistance for estimated 42 families that are unable to meet their utility obligations.
• Purchase four isolation/quarantine units.The units will be used for persons that require isolation or to be quarantined due to living in overcrowded units and need separation for the safety of the entire family.
The time frame to complete all six activities is December 31.