Petersburg’s tribe is helping its members pay for their housing and food in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. As KFSK’s Angela Denning reports, the tribe is also giving out financial assistance to other residents in town.
Petersburg Indian Association is rolling out more assistance programs for tribal members as well as other residents in town through federal Cares Act funding.
The programs include utility, rental, mortgage, and food assistance to tribal members as well as moorage assistance at the harbors for all residents who qualify.
“There’s quite a few households that are looking for some assistance and we’re just glad that with the Cares Act funding that we’re able to get some of that out into the community and into the hands of the families that need it,” said Tracy Welch, PIA Tribal Administrator
Earlier this month, PIA administered a utility assistance program to households with tribal members. Welch says 142 households in Petersburg qualified for that program.
PIA has just finished up the application period for a rental and mortgage assistance program. The tribe is paying $1,000 directly to tribal household’s landlords or mortgage companies. Welch says they are still processing the applications but have received over 80 of them.
PIA has just launched a Cares Act food assistance program for tribal households. The tribe plans to deliver one to two boxes of food each month in October, November, and December. Welch says they are working with the local stores on how the supplies will be managed.
“We’ve been working with the two local grocery stores to come up with a list of items that we can potentially be putting in the boxes,” Welch said. “It’s not going to be a food voucher program, we’ll be providing a box worth of food to tribal households. It will be one box per tribal household. It doesn’t matter how many members are in a family just to keep it as simple as possible.”
For the food assistance program, there needs to be at least one tribal member in the household to qualify. Welch says it’s a simple application to fill out.
“You have to be enrolled with PIA, you have to have been impacted by COVID-19,” said Welch. “It’s kind of a check-the-box, if it applies to you and if ‘yes’, then you are eligible.”
PIA is also offering a $500 moorage subsidy to all Alaska residents who have an existing moorage agreement in Petersburg and who have been affected by COVID-19.
“So, if you have been affected by COVID, your business has incurred additional expenses and continues to face hardship due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, if you’re an Alaska resident and you’ve had three months-worth of moorage in the Petersburg harbor system since March 15 then you are eligible,” Welch said.
The deadline for the moorage subsidy is November 15. It is not a first come first serve program. Welch says there is funding available and it won’t run out.
“This covers not just commercial but it covers subsistence and leisure boats as well,” said Welch.
Welch says PIA has a few different funding sources for COVID assistance. Some of PIA’s programs need to be paid out by the end of the year and some do not have that deadline. She says there will likely be more assistance opportunities being announced in the coming month.
Applications for PIA’s assistance programs can be found online at piatribal.org or they can be picked up in person at their office at 15 N. 12th Street between 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Applications for PIA’s moorage subsidy can also be found at the Harbor Master’s office.