According to Guam Housing Corp., over an eight-month period, only three Guam families out of 136 applicants benefited from a $ 714,000 federal-funded program to help families affected by the pandemic pay off mortgages.
The GHC not only extended the application period to June 4, but also pushed through income requirements to allow more homeowners to qualify. But the number of approved applications remained small.
GHC President Edith Pangelinan said the cumulative mortgage assistance provided to the three approved applicants was $ 7,868 at the end of the extended application period.
This is just over 1% of the total allocated to Guam by the federal government.
“Responsible mortgage holders, when the pandemic started, they went ahead and immediately applied to their bank to defer the loan. Since they already had an existing loan deferral agreement with the bank, they were not eligible for GHC mortgage assistance. the program when it became available. We think this is one of the main reasons, “Pangelinan told The Guam Daily Post of the small number of applications approved.
GHC began accepting applications on October 8th.
The program provides homeowners in Guam with mortgage assistance for up to three months, while some states only provide assistance for one month.
Pangelinan said the agency would like to see as many families as possible benefit from the program.
Around May, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development authorized a change in income requirements for Guam to exclude real estate from the calculation of family income.
Many of them were not eligible to participate in the program due to the initial required income threshold, Pangelinan said.
But with the eligibility requirements adjusted, only two additional homeowners have been pre-approved by the GHC for mortgage payments and have also been reviewed by the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority.
Ray Topasna, chief executive of GHURA, said on Friday that GHURA has identified two candidates as “ineligible under federal law.”
$ 639,000 left
The federal government allowed administrative costs to be part of the overall grant, so the amount of funding remaining for the GHC mortgage assistance program is currently about $ 639,000, Pangelinan said.
About 26 other applications are still pending since the close of the application period on June 4, Pangelinan said. It is not known when the verification process will be completed, as well as the likelihood of approval of any of them, she said.
With regard to the significant funding balance, Pangelinan said this would be an issue for GHURA.
GHURA technically covers the financing component of the mortgage assistance program, while GHC is the contractor who received the grant.
GHURA said the funding will not be returned to the federal government and will instead remain in Guam to help more families with their housing needs.
“My team will have to think about reprogramming the funds for appropriate activities,” Topasna said. “This process continues.”
Of the 136 applications received since October, 62 have been found inadmissible, Panjelinan said, and dozens more have not completed their applications because they did not submit additional required documents.
Last year, the GHC said about 200 low- and middle-income families struggling to pay off mortgages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic could benefit from the mortgage assistance program.
Separate from rent, utilities
The GHC Homeowner Mortgage Assistance Program is separate from the $ 33.6 million rent and utility program, which is administered by the Department of Administration.
The DOA Emergency Assistance App is open until September 30, 2022. It provides rent and utilities to affected households for up to 15 months.
To date, nearly $ 2 million out of $ 33.6 million has gone to families struggling to pay home rent and / or electricity, water and other utility bills.
DOA Deputy Director Bernadine Guinness said the department expects an influx of job seekers when the pandemic unemployment assistance program ends on September 4.
To apply, residents can call DOA at 671-638-4518 / 4519, go to doa.guam.gov “To download the application form, visit the DOA at the ITC building in Tamuning,” Guinness said.