40% of GHURA housing program recipients from FAS

GHURA HOUSING: Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority public housing units are pictured Sunday, June 28, in Yona. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

Some 40% of the recipients for each of two low-cost housing assistance programs under the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority are migrants from the freely associated states, officials said.

"That's a pretty significant number," GHURA Executive Director Ray Topasna said on June 23. "For every FAS household placed into these housing programs, that means displacement of U.S. citizens from the programs."

Some 3,000 people are on the wait list for both Section 8 and public housing programs, both meant to help provide affordable housing to low-income families, Topasna said.

As of May 30, there were 2,484 heads of household under the Section 8 housing voucher program. 

Of that number, 963, or 39%, are FAS migrants.

Topasna said each FAS migrant who applied for Section 8 housing may have multiple family members in that housing. The children may be a combination of FAS migrants and those who were born on Guam and are therefore U.S. citizens.

Of 698 heads of household in GHURA's public housing program, 278, or 40%, are FAS migrants.

Administration plans

Carlotta Leon Guerrero, the governor's chief adviser on military and regional affairs, recently shared with the Mayors' Council of Guam that FAS migrants comprise 39% of Section 8 housing program recipients.

Leon Guerrero said among the administration's plans to address issues related to regional migrants is to seek federal government approval to expand the Section 8 housing benefits for FAS migrants, so they can bring the benefits with them if they move outside of Guam.

Topasna said Section 8 and public housing programs each use the same funding pot for both FAS migrants and U.S. citizens on Guam.

He said it would be better to have more funding for these housing programs to accommodate more families that are in dire need of housing. Regular counts have shown that there are hundreds of homeless people on Guam.

Topasna said the number of homeless individuals may have gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reimbursement

FAS migrants are from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which have compacts of free association with the United States.

The compacts allow the U.S. military access to FAS territories for defense purposes. In exchange, the U.S. has given FAS nations financial aid for decades and visa-free entry for their citizens to Guam, other territories and states.

But Guam and other host countries said they have not been reimbursed fully for the cost of hosting the FAS migrants.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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