The island’s homeless population is due for a move into “hardened structure buildings,” according to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.
GovGuam’s initial plan was to put tents up in Paseo Stadium for the island’s homeless population so that they can weather out the pandemic. But the government was told the tent situation did not comply with public health guidelines for COVID-19.
So they put out an RFP to find actual bricks-and-mortar structures and the governor announced at her Monday news conference that they’re rounding the bend on that process.
“We are in the process now of awarding it. We have identified a few of the facilities that came to the table and we will in the short-term be moving these individuals,” the governor said.
She added: “We’re not just going to have one, we’re going to have two and a combination of also residence, you know, homes that may be families that are homeless would then be allowed.”
Paseo de Susana Park in Agana has become a community of shelter-less individuals and families, each camped out with their belongings in the park’s gazebos.
Anthony is an ex-convict who spent 24 years in jail. He said he’s tried getting a job since getting out but employers aren’t eager to hire criminals.
He and his girlfriend have been living in the park for the past four months and came there initially because they were told they’d be sheltered in the so-called “tent city” in Paseo.
“If you’re going to offer us help and find us a place to stay, where we’ll be okay, please help us. Don’t say you’re going to do and then don’t because we hope … and when you say you’re going to help us, we hold that hope,” Anthony said.
Anthony is a recovering addict and in her announcement Monday, the governor said she wants to deal with the underlying causes of homelessness as well.
“I want to do a wrap-around service so that we can provide for their needs. Many of these homeless have mental health challenges, many of them are also maybe drug-addicted…substance abuse. So, I want to provide the services to them … the services to start rehabilitating so they can come back to being a productive member of our community.”
As for whether he’ll move into the government-designated buildings, Anthony says it’ll depend on the locations since the roots they’ve planted are all in the Agana area.
He also hesitates to go indoors altogether.
“Why I won’t be excited is because I’ll be liable to catch the virus. Us homeless, we are out in the open … we sweat, we shower and we know how to take care of ourselves. And, we didn’t come up positive. We’re basically safe down here and to be in a building you just don’t want to be combined,” Anthony said.
PNC requested for an update today on the shelter locations but Adelup said they’re still being finalized.