CNMI application for FEMA housing assistance open until March 22

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Saipan – CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres urged Saipan and Tinian residents to take advantage of the housing assistance being offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to victims of typhoon Yutu.

Residents who qualify for the Permanent Housing Construction grant have up until Friday, March 22  to notify FEMA of their intention to either accept or decline the cash assistance.

Construction of new homes under PHC is slated to begin as early as June 2019 and May 2019 for home repairs. New home construction and home repairs will be of no cost to eligible residents.

“We encourage our affected residents to take advantage of this unique opportunity that not only provides a brand-new home, but one that is built to last,” Torres said. “While this won’t be the last storm the Marianas will face, we are called to take proactive measures to build better for our families. ”

Typhoon Yutu plowed through Saipan and Tinian on Oct. 25, 2018, destroying hundreds of homes and facilities on both islands.

A total of 317 homes on Saipan and 113 on Tinian were categorized as “majorly damaged.”

“In the wake of Yutu, the ability of survivors to move forward with short and long-term housing plans continued to be challenged,” Torres said.

“Between Saipan and Tinian, 941 households collectively have been deemed potentially eligible for the new construction and home repair programs,” Torres said.

He said the latest numbers indicate that 200 households have decided to opt-in into new construction and 135 choose to be a participant of the home repair program.

A total of 61 households have decided to opt-out from the new construction program while 80 households will be opting out of the home repair program.

“Some residents who have qualified for the program have yet to make a decision on whether or not they will be participating while those who have not opted in or out are awaiting to attend the PHC seminars,” Torres said.

President Donald Trump approved the major disaster declaration in the CNMI in October 2018.

FEMA determined that no other form of temporary housing assistance is accessible, feasible or cost-effective, and that the housing need exceeded resources available.

PHC is a rare assistance program presented to disaster survivors in insular areas were commodities, resources and manpower are limited. Through the program new homes will be built to standard with the CNMI’s building codes.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.