GHURA defends decision to scrap Hessler homeless shelter plan

The old legislature building has now been gutted to make room for a number of GovGuam offices that will soon occupy it.

Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority Director Ray Topasna is defending the Leon Guerrero administration’s decision to convert the old legislative building at Hessler Street into GovGuam offices instead of a homeless shelter.

Rather than using a $2.5 million federal grant for a homeless shelter, the administration got the Interior Department’s permission to buy the old building and lease the land it sits on for use by the Office of Veterans Affairs and other GovGuam agencies.

In a news release, Topasna maintained that building a new homeless shelter in the north would be “more practical” than one located in downtown Hagatna.

He said GHURA has already developed a draft application seeking a new grant for a northern homeless shelter. Governor Lou Leon Guerrero today said that application will be one of her priorities when she visits Washington again next week.

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“That’s the first item on my agenda in meeting with White House officials to follow up on our application for the homeless shelter and also we are working very closely with GHURA because they also have grants that focus on providing shelter,” the governor said.

The number of homeless on island has been steadily increasing in recent years.

Last year, the Guam Homeless Coalition counted 875 homeless on island, 21 more than the year before.