$1.8M more in Housing funds made available for Guam

GHURA: The Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority in Sinajana is shown. Guam's congressman is urging officials to use the nearly $8 million in federal funds to help provide rent and mortgage relief to local residents. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

The Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority will soon launch programs to offer rental and mortgage relief using Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding, according to GHURA Executive Director Ray Topasna.

“GHURA is in fact already working on both mortgage and rent relief programs utilizing funding from the CARES Act. However, we are still awaiting final approval from HUD,” Topasna said.

He said a request for approval on how to spend the money was sent last week to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and GHURA expects a response by Friday.

“Should HUD approve our funding proposals in the coming days, we will be prepared to talk more about the details,” he said.

Topasna said some of the funds would be used to provide funding to support a program under the Guam Salvation Army Corps.

“The partnership we have with the Salvation Army is we give them money and that money is directly applied toward paying down some of the rent for those that qualify,” he said.

GHURA will a form a separate partnership to address mortgage relief for those who can provide evidence of COVID-19-related hardship, according to Topasna.

“We are going to be implementing a mortgage relief program that would pay up to three months of mortgages for those that are income-qualified,” he said, adding that work on standing up the program has been ongoing for weeks.

GHURA received an initial allotment of $3.5 million from HUD under the CARES Act, and in May received an additional $2.7 million.

In June, GHURA announced the use of approximately $2.7 million in CARES money for programs to prevent, prepare for or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Guam residents face a fifth month, in August, of adverse economic conditions due to the pandemic, Topasna said once HUD approves the request, the rent and mortgage program funds would be disbursed “immediately.”

In response to a letter sent Monday by Del. Michael San Nicolas to the governor calling for programs to pass on federal funding to help renters and mortgage holders during the pandemic, Topasna said: “Everything he is proposing is in the works.”

“Since the congressman is just as eager as we are to spend these funds, perhaps he can sponsor a bill that will do away with all stringent requirements if the proposal is COVID-19-related. Appropriating the money is really the easy part. We still must follow fed rules,” Topasna added.

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