Gov. Eddie Calvo and members of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority held a groundbreaking ceremony to unveil the final 159 units of the 399-unit low-income housing project in Lada, Dededo. The housing subdivision is known as the Summer Town Estates.
The simultaneous ribbon-cutting and groundbreaking events were held yesterday afternoon to commemorate the beginning of the completion of the decades-long project that was initially bogged down by litigation and other complications.
“This area we’re at today is the old Lada Estates project from decades ago, which sat idle, and had even become a dumping ground for old cars and white goods, and beat up furniture,” Calvo said. “I tasked the former president of Guam Housing Corp., Martin Benavente, to resurrect the dream. And together, in partnership with GHURA, we’re able to rejuvenate this area, and provide affordable and quality homes for our people.”
According to GHURA Executive Director Michael Duenas, the project is funded by Low-Income Housing Tax Credits which, as Guam's housing authority, GHURA awards to applicants. The chosen applicants and their investors sell the credits in the financial markets to fund housing projects aimed at providing low-income families with affordable housing options.
Longevity and safety are key
Yesterday, GHURA held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for 93 new units that Duenas said are all already occupied.
The units range in size from one- and two-bedroom units with more than half being three- and four-bedroom units. All are equipped with energy-efficient appliances, solar water-heaters, and common amenities.
GHURA's architectural and engineering manager Albert Santos told The Guam Daily Post the contractor, CoreTech International, designed the houses with longevity in mind as provisions within the tax credits program require the developer to sustain the quality of the units for 60 years.
"The specs are very stringent," Santos said. "Everything from the material for the tiles, to the doors and windows were chosen specifically to last."
In addition to the architectural specifications of the houses, Santos said the quality of life provided by the design of the community encouraged a sense of safety among residents.
"You should come here at night," he explained. "Everyone is out walking around because they all feel safe."
Future funding may be difficult
In order to continue to pursue what he called the "Guamanian Dream," Calvo also announced the start of the final phase of the project and broke ground for 66 more units that are scheduled to be completed at the start of 2019.
However, as GHURA moves forward under the Trump administration, Duenas said finding funding through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits could become more difficult.
Duenas explained that because LIHTC operates by selling tax credits in the financial markets to corporate entities with large tax burdens who want tax breaks, possible breaks proposed by the Trump administration could result in those tax credits becoming less desirable, meaning less funding for LIHTC projects.
Until then, prospective residents of the Summer Town Estates can look forward to the completion of the final 66 units in two years’ time, and the continued development and improvement of what Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares termed the "city of Dededo."