By Johnnie Rosario
Sen. Jim Moylan is asking Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to set aside CARES Act direct government assistance money to help people struggling to pay their rent and mortgages.
"As our island’s economic conditions continue to endure volatility, and as some of our residents don’t qualify for federal unemployment assistance, it is critical that actions be pursued in terms of creating a local grant program to provide some aid for rental and/or mortgage assistance using the monies from the CARES Act," Mr. Moylan wrote to Ms. Leon Guerrero today.
Families who are behind in rent or their mortgage face a fiscal cliff on August 29, when the public health emergency is slated to end, unless the governor extends the emergency. The governor placed a moratorium on evictions from the start of the public health emergency until it ends.
It has been estimated that some 30,000 displaced workers will receive some form of unemployment assistance. Mr. Moylan, however, is concerned about renters and homeowners who do not qualify for this assistance, but have seen their income drop and are unable to afford their rent or mortgage.
Ms. Leon Guerrero received nearly $118 million in April through the CARES Act to help soften the impact of the pandemic on the government and the people of Guam. According to a disclosure she made in May, the bulk of that funding was slated for purchases within executive branch agencies.
Mr. Moylan is asking her to use some of that money instead to stand up a relief program for renters and homeowners.
"While we recognize that the funding amount may be limited, a grant program should be established for those families who were impacted by this pandemic to the point where they don’t have the financial means to pay for their rent or mortgages (and have been behind for months), did not qualify for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and are on the cusp of an eviction or a foreclosure. If the grant program can provide temporary relief of all or even a portion of a one- month payment, this would provide the family the additional cushion as they plan their finances for the immediate future. The amount of the grant is something which needs to be determined based on the availability of funds.
"Likewise, the program can be established where the landlord or financial institution would attain the monies directly. Another advantage to this proposal is that monies paid out would reciprocate into our economy in several ways, including through taxes. At the same time, this would help reduce the potential of homelessness and possibly allow qualified families to avail of other programs with the Guam Housing and Urban Development Authority." - Moylan letter to the governor