GHURA supports northern homeless shelter concept

GHURA Executive Director Ray Topasna (PNC file photo)

The Guam Housing & Urban Renewal Authority fully supports the administration’s intent to shift the use of the Hessler Street facility (former legislature building) from a nighttime homeless shelter to a “One-Stop” location for a number of critical government functions, the agency stated in a news release.

According to GHURA, it was instrumental in the development of a draft application by the Governor’s Office for a northern homeless shelter. While the proposal submitted by a previous administration to the Department of Interior focused on assisting those displaced by Typhoon Mangkhut (and eventually pivoting to assist the general homeless population), the revised proposal focuses on the current homeless population with the added capacity to assist those displaced by future natural disasters.

“Traditionally, there are more families displaced after storms in the northern part of Guam more so than central. Hence, a northern shelter would seem more practical to provide immediate shelter to the displaced as well as the homeless. GHURA was not consulted when the initial proposal was submitted to DOI. This proposal in my professional opinion was not sustainable without long-term permanent operational funding identified. There was little discussion of who or how the operation would be funded moving forward.” says GHURA Executive Director Ray Topasna.

“Brick and mortar aren’t enough. What we need to focus on is not only to shelter those in need, but the lack of support services needed to assist the homeless to get back to a state of being able to successfully be housed and sustain themselves. The critical government services now being proposed at the Hessler Street facility would serve this purpose,” added Topasna.

In totality, GHURA provides homes to over 4,880 families. It also provides funding to non-profits and nongovernment entities that provide services to homeless families and individuals.