Q&A on Sealaska’s CARES Act Distribution in Partnership with Tlingit & Haida
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Sealaska will begin accepting applications for its CARES Act distribution in partnership with the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska on Monday, Oct. 4. We have compiled the following answers to questions we’ve received so far. Do you have a question that isn’t addressed here? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll update this Q&A throughout the application period.
How do I apply?
Shareholders can apply online at https://mysealaska.com/AboutMe/CaresActApplication starting on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. For shareholders who do not have access to a computer, you can call 907-463-7750 and someone at Tlingit & Haida will help you fill out the application over the phone.
If you call in and are routed to voice mail, the only personal information our technicians need is the last four digits of your Social Security number and your date of birth. If you provide this information, the technicians can review your application before calling you back and be prepared to discuss the specifics of your situation.
What kind of information do I need to submit?
To apply, you need to login to your MySealaska account. That process verifies your status as a shareholder. If you are applying over the phone you will need the last four digits of your Social Security number.
The application requires applicants to upload a photo or PDF of one of the following:
- Unemployment benefits notice
- Lease agreement dated after March of 2020
- Rent receipt
- Rent or mortgage statement
- Home insurance
- Eviction notice
- Hospital bill
- Hospital discharge papers
- W2 from 2019 and 2020 showing decreased income
- Receipt for personal protection gear (masks, gloves, etc) and disinfectants
- Notice to quarantine
- Social Security benefits letter
- Childcare invoice
- Water/sewer/garbage bill
- Electric bill
- Receipts for equipment used for distance learning or remote work
- Receipt for internet used for remote education, training, or work
- Bills in the name of the spouse.
- Bills in the name of a roommate or partner. Note, this will also require you to fill out a shelter statement. Shelter statements will need to be emailed to email@example.com.
For people experiencing homelessness, here are the documents being accepted:
- Shelter statement
- Cell phone bill
- Auto insurance bill
- Receipt for groceries
- Receipts for storage units made necessary due to homelessness
What about Elders and people who are experiencing homelessness?
October 8, 2021 update: there are approximately 5,000 application spots still available.
Elders who have submitted an application will be in one of those 5,000 slots (even if they are unable to submit proof of cost at the time). Once we hit the 12,000 applications, the application period will close and we will review all applications submitted before determining if we will reopen spaces voided by denied applications.
We advise Elders to:
- Call the SEALASKA line (907) 463-7750 to do an application over the phone. The Elder will need to submit a proof of cost document as soon as they are able to via fax, email or mail.
- Have a friend/relative/service provider help them complete the application online and upload a proof of cost document at the time of application.
Tlingit & Haida is current with voicemails and are accepting live phone calls. There is no longer a backlog for Sealaska calls.
We are working closely on a process to get funding to people experiencing homelessness and have determined what kind of documentation can be provided if you don’t have bills or statements to submit. Please see the above on documentation being accepted if you are experiencing homelessness.
How do I know if I qualify?
Any shareholder with voting shares who has pandemic-related expenses that haven’t been covered through other financial-assistance programs administered by tribes or other Native service organizations is eligible for payment. However, we encourage you to consider the need that exists in our community and only apply if you genuinely need this money to meet your financial obligations.
Is there a deadline to apply?
CARES Act funds have to be dispersed by the end of 2021. Although there isn’t currently a formal deadline to apply, functionally we’ll need applications in by the beginning of December. Given the interest and demand we’re seeing, though, we expect to have 12,000 qualified applicants in the system well before that, and recommend applying as soon as possible.
Do you have to be 18 to apply?
No. You don’t have to be 18 to apply, but if you’re a “ward,” your custodian must apply on your behalf. If you are on the “ward” page in MySealaska, the CARES Act application available there will automatically apply to your ward.
Is there a fax number for Elders to send applications to?
There is no fax number. Anyone who cannot fill out the application online should call Tlingit & Haida at 907-463-7750 and someone will assist you to fill it out over the phone.
What if I can’t access my MySealaska account?
If you’re having trouble accessing your MySealaska account, try resetting your password. You can do that at this link.
I called three times on Sunday. Why didn’t anyone call me back?
Tlingit & Haida and Sealaska both work traditional, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. schedules. If you call outside of normal business hours, you will receive a call back as soon as possible the next business day.
How much is available?
Sealaska received $4.2 million in CARES Act funding, and teamed up with Tlingit & Haida, which contributed an additional $1.8 million to make a total of $6 million available through our program. We are awarding up to 12,000 shareholders $500 each. Awards will be made on a first come, first served basis, so apply early. The entire $6 million is being distributed to shareholders – administrative costs associated with the distribution are being absorbed by Sealaska and Tlingit & Haida.
Is this available to all shareholders or only those in Alaska?
The Sealaska/T&H distribution is available to all Sealaska shareholders who live in the United States. (Since the funding comes from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, it cannot be dispersed to residents of other countries.)
How will the money be distributed?
Similar to other Sealaska distributions, successful applicants who are signed up for direct deposit will receive their $500 payment electronically. Those who receive paper checks will receive a check from Sealaska. Payments will be made twice a week, and applications will be processed as quickly as possible. Shareholders who receive paper checks should be aware that the U.S. Postal Service recently revised its service schedule for First Class mail, and checks are now expected to take a couple days longer than usual to arrive. This is a good time to sign up for direct deposit if you haven’t already!
When are CARES Act payments made by Sealaska?
Payments are processed on Tuesdays and Fridays; it takes 24-72 business hours for the payment to post to the shareholder’s bank account. If you are signed up for direct deposit with Sealaska, you will receive your funds electronically. If you receive your distribution payments by mail, you will likewise be mailed a check from Sealaska. Please note the USPS recently advised that first class mail service would begin taking about two days longer starting in early October.
Why did you pair up with T&H?
Tlingit & Haida has administered several other pandemic-related aid programs to tribal citizens. They have experience with this type of program that we do not yet. We felt that we would be able to offer a better program that operated more smoothly if we worked together. We are so grateful for their support and the additional funds they provided to increase the available benefit for Sealaska shareholders.
Tlingit & Haida will review and approve the applications as they come in and then send them to Sealaska for payment.
Why didn’t you just send you a special distribution?
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has a lot of specific rules for what can and can’t be done with CARES Act funding. You can read about them here. In short, we are not able to send out the money to everyone as a special distribution. Treasury has informed ANCs that we can expect to be audited on these programs.
Why did it take so long to get the program up and running?
There were a few factors. Because Sealaska has never administered a program like this before, it took us some time to identify the best path forward in working with Tlingit & Haida. Once the partnership was formed, we had to create the application mechanism within MySealaska. Perhaps most time consuming, we had to hire people to field and approve applications and get them trained before we could start accepting applications. We appreciate your patience.
Why are only Tlingit & Haida tribal citizens eligible?
ALL Sealaska shareholders are eligible, regardless of their tribal affiliation. Our postcard erroneously shared this statement, but all subsequent information has been corrected. We apologize for the confusion.
Tlingit & Haida is already really far behind – did Sealaska or Tlingit & Haida hire more staff to handle another program?
We have hired more staff specific to this distribution. They will be ready on Monday, Oct. 4 to begin accepting applications.
SEALASKA CARES ACT INFORMATION
Why was Sealaska’s CARES Act allocation so small compared to others?
- The Treasury formula relied on a tribal population assessment developed in connection with housing-related services. In Southeast, tribes provide housing services, so Sealaska didn’t receive any funding in this category of the formula.
- Total employment was also a factor. ANCs that received more than Sealaska most likely had more employees.
- Sealaska complied with all application requirements and filled everything out in full and on time.
For more in-depth information, please click here.
Can Sealaska set up a dedicated phone number for Elders only? Elders have already missed out on T&H funding due to no access to internet. Now, they’ll miss out again.
The phone number provided in all of our communications (907-463-7750) is specifically for Elders or anyone else who doesn’t have access to a computer or a reliable Internet connection. We will be helping anyone who needs assistance to apply over the phone.
How did Sealaska determine only helping 12,000 applicants?
We knew our funds were limited, but still wanted to offer a meaningful benefit to those who needed it most. The Treasury Department made it clear we couldn’t send a special distribution to everyone. We tried to strike a balance between offering a somewhat substantial amount of money and reaching the most people we possibly could. Please remember that other ANCs and tribes have their own CARES-related opportunities; our program is one of many available to Alaska Native people with ties to our region. We hope that between all available programs our people will experience some relief from coronavirus-related impacts.