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'We could be homeless soon': Family seeks portion of $33.6M in rental aid for Guam

Family seeks portion of $33.6M in rental aid for Guam

'We could be homeless soon': Family seeks portion of $33.6M in rental aid for Guam

RENT RELIEF: The Guam Housing Corp. office is located in the ITC building in Tamuning. GHC is asking people to be patient because the $33.6 million federally funded rent relief program for households isn't open yet. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Mary Nolte, 54, has been months behind in payments for the Tumon apartment where she and her 16-year-old son live.

Financial hardships exacerbated by medical expenses last year related to a broken knee and inability to show up to work, she said, have made it harder to make ends meet even for a Guam Department of Education employee like her.

"We could be homeless soon, and I don't know what to do. I'm hoping the $33 million that GovGuam got for rent assistance will be able to help my family sooner rather than later," Nolte told The Guam Daily Post on Monday.

In January, the government of Guam received $33.6 million from the U.S. Treasury so it can locally roll out the Emergency Assistance Rental Program.

But as of Monday, GovGuam has neither opened the program nor provided more information about how to apply, where to apply and who qualifies on Guam.

Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the governor's director of communications, on Monday said Adelup hopes to have information about the program "before the end of the week."

Prior to that, the Guam Housing Corp. had asked the public to be patient, saying GovGuam is still waiting for the U.S. Treasury's guidelines to open the rent relief program.

In the meantime, potential applicants are encouraged to gather as much proof as possible of their financial hardships including a furlough or layoff notice from their employer.

'I'm sure I'm not the only one'

In Nolte's case, she said she has a GovGuam job but it's still hard to keep up with the bills and she's hoping she will qualify for rental relief.

Besides her landlord asking her to pay rent for several months now, she's also getting disconnection notices from the Guam Power Authority.

"Since Guam already has the money, I hope they'd speed up the process of allowing us to apply. I am employed with GovGuam, I don't qualify for food stamps, I don't qualify for Section 8," Nolte said. "I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation."

Like Nolte, many on Guam are behind in residential rent payments because of joblessness and other difficulties because of the pandemic. 

Nolte is a program coordinator with GDOE, and the department confirmed her employment.

Eviction moratorium

She is especially concerned that with Pandemic Condition of Readiness 3 now in effect, it's just a matter of time before the governor lifts the eviction moratorium for residential renters.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Friday said the moratorium on some evictions and foreclosures will be lifted effective March 1.

For residential renters, evictions related to late payments remain on hold. Residential evictions for non-rent violations such as the commission of a crime or damaging property will resume on March 1.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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