Navajo president signs pandemic aid priorities, $1B spend
CROWNPOINT, N.M. (AP) — Navajo Nation leaders have finalized an agreement on spending priorities for more than $1 billion in federal pandemic relief to improve water, sanitation, housing and communications infrastructure.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Friday signed an agreement from the Navajo Nation Council to deliver funding to improve infrastructure for water, electricity, high-speed internet, housing, COVID-19 mitigation and specialized hardship assistance to projects and residents across the reservation spanning portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
The coronavirus pandemic disproportionately hit Indian Country, underscored stark disparities in access to running water, sewage systems and internet communications amid interruptions in classroom teaching.
The spending at the Navajo Nation is linked to the American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Joe Biden in early 2021. Additional aid is expected under a massive infrastructure bill, approved in November 2021, that set aside $20 billion for Indian Country.
“More water, electricity, broadband, housing, and hardship assistance will be provided to elders, youth, veterans, students, families, and others,” Nez said in a statement. “Elders will get water lines, electricity, housing, and other basic necessities – they are not left out.”
Under the signed resolution, the Navajo Nation will devote $215 million to water and waste-water projects, $97 million to extend electricity to homes, and $250 million on internet and housing projects. Another $210 million is set aside for local priorities determined by Navajo chapterhouse government units.
This version corrects the location of Crownpoint in the story dateline to New Mexico, not Arizona.
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