The first Guam Homeless Coalition Summit was held today at the Hyatt in aims of discussing the issues of homelessness and poverty prevention on the Island.
PNC was told by officials at the summit that there were around 875 homeless people in Guam according to homelessness reports in 2021, a number that is said to be higher in the 2022 results.
The event hosted several panels where housing and support services providers were able to inform attendees in hopes of finding ways to give the homeless community stability and housing.
Different agencies were in attendance, such as, the Department of Labor, DOE, Social Services and Public Health. As well as Non-Profit agencies like VARO and the Salvation Army along with the American Job Center and the Guam Veterans Affairs to name a few.
These agencies and organizations usually work to provide help and services to homeless people.
During the summit, attendees gained awareness on the services that different agencies provide.
Dr. Margaret Hattori-Uchima, member of the Guam Homeless Coalition, said their goal is more comprehensive, besides working to get people out of the streets, they are also looking for ways to provide support and employment opportunities for these communities so they can sustain themselves.
“You can’t just house someone if you can’t sustain the housing, and by sustaining the housing they need a wide array of support services, whether it’s substance abuse treatment, whether it’s counseling, whether it’s medical care, right, and then of course employment. You know there are some people that don’t have high school education, so how can we help with that? If someone does have an education, how can we get them into employment.” said Hattori.
Hattori added that because of this summit from now on they can all know what the problems are and so then they can focus on finding solutions, which she says depends on the needs of each individual or family since there’s no “one fits all solution”.