New qualifying certificate program proposed to lower housing cost on Guam
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. Telo Taitague today introduced a bill that would create a second affordable housing qualifying certificate program to encourage developers to build housing complexes with a minimum of five and a maximum of 25 units.
Taitague said Bill 348-36 seeks to prioritize homeownership for families hoping to buy a home in today’s tough housing market.
Bill 348-36 recognizes the price for a single-family home continues to increase and is becoming out of reach to many more families who are already struggling with higher food, fuel, healthcare and energy costs.
Guam’s new median price for a single-family dwelling reached $426,000 – a substantial increase from the median price of $299,000 in pre-pandemic 2019, and $335,500 in 2020. The 2022 figure represents a 12 percent increase from $380,000 in 2021.
Based on data provided by the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority or GHURA to the legislature in October 2021, there were 12,700 individuals and their families living in various GHURA public housing. There were also 2,875 individuals and families including 408 senior citizens registered on the agency’s wait list for Section 8 housing opportunities.
Under Guam law, developers who build at least 25 affordable housing units are eligible for incentives including BPT, income, real property and use tax benefits.
If enacted, Bill 348-36 would extend these same tax benefits to eligible developers that may have fewer resources and a limited number of skilled laborers, in exchange for constructing no less than five affordable housing units.
However, developers who engage in the construction of not less than five but fewer than 25 affordable housing units, would have their BPT payments deposited into the Affordable Housing Assistance Fund.
The fund will operate as a revolving fund to support down payment and other closing cost requirements for eligible first-time borrowers whose loan application receives approval from a financial institution licensed to operate on Guam.
“Bill 348 recognizes the urgency of using every policy at our disposal as a government to help families get past the finish line, particularly when inflation continues to push the finish line farther from them,” Taitague said.
“The housing affordability crisis creates a huge barrier for families who work hard every day to raise their children, secure a good job, and put some money aside to build a home. Unfortunately, home prices today are beyond reachable for working families, which leaves them with no other choice but to continue renting, stay with relatives, or move elsewhere.”
Taitague said Bill 348-36 would create new communities and entail new economic activity "in the form of new or expanded grocery and retail stores, telecommunication providers, and restaurants."
"Legislatures in the past recognized the importance of supporting measures like Bill 348 because they prioritize the needs of our families while strengthening our economy," Tatitague said.
The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Frank Blas, Jr, Clynt Ridgell, Tony Ada, Sabina Perez, and Joanne Brown.
Between 2012 and 2022, $6.3 million in first-time homeowner assistance program grants issued by the Guam Housing Corporation to 784 families, yielded approximately $153 million in additional economic activity through services associated with real estate, banking, escrow, appraisers and title insurance business transactions.