The Department of Public Health and Social Services is ready to award a contract for the operation of I Guma Mina'åse' Sister Mary Brigid Perez, an emergency shelter for foster children, Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio announced Thursday during a meeting of the Interagency Council on Homelessness.
He said the Department of Public Works is working to issue an occupancy permit for the facility. The challenge has been a water-pressure problem in Barrigada Heights, where the shelter is located, Tenorio said. But the Guam Waterworks Authority has provided an interim solution to cover about six months as major infrastructure upgrades are performed in the area, he said.
As of Friday, officials were completing a punch list of items for the facility, which will allow DPW to issue a full occupancy permit for the shelter. Public Health can then award the contract.
Construction of the $1.4 million federally funded facility was spearheaded by efforts of the Rigålu Foundation and former first lady Christine Calvo. Public Health spokeswoman Janela Carrera said the operations contract, which is also to provide emergency support services, will be locally funded. She could not disclose the potential contractor prior to the official award.
The shelter briefly operated as a COVID-19 community health center early in the pandemic.
"We stopped using it (for testing) because we were preparing to use it for its intended purpose," Carrera said.
Tenorio said opening the shelter also points to some of the longstanding challenges Public Health has experienced with the availability of foster parents and foster placements, which have been complicated by the pandemic.