CARES Act funding helping Navajo Nation provide essential necessities

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The Navajo Nation is making progress in bringing necessities, like electricity, water and broadband, to more of its people.

"In this day and age of COVID-19, we know it’s very important that we get internet capability and access to our Navajo folks because many of our students are still at home logging in to get their homework and get their instructions on a daily basis," said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

The effort is part of the Navajo Nation’s ongoing efforts to spend federal coronavirus relief money.

"We’ve connected 719 families to the electric grid with CARES Act, 30 families with waterline extensions, 42 student Wi-Fi hot spots, 300 off-grid solar systems, and the list keeps going and going," said Arash Moalemi of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.

Despite the progress, tribal leaders say federal restrictions on CARES Act funding was a major setback.

"We wanted to do more projects, we wanted to bring more water, more broadband, but we were limited," said Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Crotty.

As congress considers future relief funding, tribal leadership is hopeful even more projects are on the way.

"We’re not going to stop in this community with just a tower. We have road conditions, we have schools down the hill, and we have elders here who want to have first-class medical service," Crotty said.