More can be approved for $174K mortgage relief over changed income criteria; 25 so far approved for $33.6M rental, utility aid

GHC: The Guam Housing Corp. office is located in the ITC building in Tamuning. More homeowners can soon benefit from the federal $714,000 mortgage relief program that GHC administers because of a recent change in income criteria that will no longer include real estate assets as part of household income. Post file photo

More homeowners can soon benefit from the $714,000 federal pandemic mortgage relief program because of a recent change in income criteria that will no longer include real estate assets as part of household income, officials said at Thursday's meeting of an interagency council dealing with homelessness.

Meanwhile, at least 25 families out of 2,600 applicants have been approved for the $33.6 million federal pandemic rent and utility relief program that the Department of Administration administers, officials also said.

In six months, only three families have so far been approved for the Guam Housing Corp.'s mortgage relief program.

That's because many applicants could not meet the income threshold that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development set, according to Ray Topasna, executive director of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority.

Topasna said HUD gave the green light for Guam "to use the IRS 1040 definition of income and not HUD's definition."

HUD's definition requires that real estate assets be considered part of the household income, which Topasna said was "problematic."

"The IRS definition could be a gamechanger. We believe it to be for many who were initially determined to be ineligible. Once it is  approved, the Guam Housing Corp. can take a second look at the 47 disapproved applications," Topasna said at the meeting of the Interagency Council for Coordinating Homelessness Programs and Office of Homelessness Assistance and Poverty Prevention.

Edith Pangelinan, acting GHC president, said as of Thursday, 10 of the 47 initially deemed ineligible for the mortgage relief program can be reconsidered because of the changed income threshold criteria.

More families can benefit as the review progresses, she said.

Rent, utility relief

Topasna also reported on the status of DOA's $33.6 million Emergency Rent Assistance program, saying that 1,237 of the 2,600 applications have so far been reviewed.

Of those reviewed, 25 "have already been determined qualified so landlord information and arrear amounts are being sent to DOA accounting for an electronic funding transfer, he said.

Topasna said this will happen in the next few days.

The landlord application for DOA's rent and utility relief program also is now open, and closes on April 16, he said.

This story will be updated.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert


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