Sealaska annouces COVID relief program

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Alaska Native regional corporation Sealaska has announced that the application period for a new relief program for its shareholders opened today.

    Up to 12,000 Sealaska shareholders will be eligible to receive $500 each. Sealaska received $4.2 million in 2020 CARES Act funding, and in a partnership with Tlingit & Haida, an additional $1.8 million will be available for the program.

    "We have really worked to stand up a program that is as effective and beneficial as possible, given the amount that we received, and the short time window that we have to get the funds out to our shareholders," said Anthony Mallot, Sealaska President and CEO.

    12 employees have been hired to manage the application processes for Sealaska, Mallot said they are not using CARES funding for these positions. As for a timeline, he said relief distribution should be within two weeks as applications come in. He said and they will pay as fast as they can on a bi-weekly schedule.

    The U.S. Treasury department defined the CARES funding distribution formula. Mallot said the biggest factor that created differences in the funding among the native corporations was the department choosing to use Housing and Urban Development housing contracting population as the population factor in the formula, and said that over half of the formula was just on that factor. He pointed out that, in southeast, Tlingit & Haida and our tribes do 100% of the housing programs with HUD.

    When asked for his reaction about native corporations being allowed to access CARES funding, Mallot said "It's bittersweet."

    "The good thing is that Alaska Natives get more funding, we think Alaska Native shareholders, Alaskan Native tribal citizens deserve as much relief as possible," he said. "The bittersweet thing is it's just created some confusion and issues between tribes and ANCs that we believe is unnecessary, and the only unfortunate thing there is that we need to take the time to really describe that we work well with our tribes. We are not tribes, we are not sovereign tribes, we do not want to be."

    With tribes receiving American Rescue Plan Act funds, Mallot was asked if it is on the corporation's radar. He said they are not going to look for anything additional.

    "We didn't ask for ANCs to be included in the CARES funding in the first place, congress actually included us with the definition they use, so with ARPA, we will use whatever program is available to us to benefit our shareholders," he said. "But the bulk of it will go to our tribes, and we want to support our tribes in utilizing that funding to the greatest community and tribal citizen benefit."

    Sealaska's application opened Monday at https://mysealaska.com/AboutMe/CaresActApplication. Shareholders without access to a computer can call Tlingit & Haida at 907-463-7750 to make an appointment to apply over the phone.

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