COFA ends in December and HELP begins in January

By Ardith Van Riper

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature has established a new optional program this month for eligible tribal members.  They initiated an emergency relief program called COFA (CARES Other Financial Assistance) back in July to assist tribal members impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  The final COFA payment disperses in December with the expiration of the federal CARES Act appropriations.  A new program called the Ho-Chunk Economic Legacy Project (HELP) will begin, using the tribe’s NPD funding.

     The Ho-Chunk Economic Legacy Project is also dubbed GWEA (General Welfare Economic Assistance) because it is short for the law in which the Legislature can offer this to tribal members.  The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014 allows the gross income from these general welfare payments to be excluded from individual gross income (i.e., taxes).   

     General Welfare assistance may include assistance for medical care, food, shelter, health, education, subsistence, housing, elder care, disability care, help to meet cultural, traditional and religious needs of the Nation and its membership, and assistance to promote self-sufficiency, self-determination, entrepreneurship, and the employment of Ho-Chunk Members.

     The HELP payments are $700 and scheduled for monthly distribution from January through June.  Enrolled tribal members interested in this new assistance are encouraged to apply before December 18, 2020.

     Due to current COVID-19 related restrictions, online GWEA application submissions are strongly recommended.  Faxed or mailed applications are accepted but no confirmation number will be provided.  Tribal members submitting online will receive a confirmation number that can be monitored and tracked by the Ho-Chunk Nation Treasury Department.

     The HELP application is similar to the COFA application and takes less than five minutes to complete.  The applications are required for auditing purposes, establishing the need for this general welfare program, and gauging tribal members’ needs for other services.

     Online applications are found at  A copy ready for printing is located at and you click on ‘Refillable doc Ho-Chunk Economic Legacy Project’ in the middle of the page.

     Call the Treasury GWEA helpline at 715-284-7720 with any questions.