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    Wednesday, May 23, 2018-1:45:20P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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672 homeless on Saipan

THERE were 672 homeless individuals on Saipan based on an April 2017 count done by the Homeless Coalition, according to Jacob Muna, a planner and environmental officer with the Northern Marianas Housing Corp.

“Our count included people living on the streets, and thoseliving in dilapidated structures with no windows, no doors, no kitchen facilities, no floors and which were considered unfit for human habitation,” he told members of the Rotary Club of Saipan during their meeting, Tuesday, at the Hyatt’s Giovanni’s Restaurant.

Jacob Muna, a planner and environmental officer with the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., speaks at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting, Tuesday, at the Hyatt’s Giovanni’s Restaurant.  Photo by Junhan B. TodiñoJacob Muna, a planner and environmental officer with the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., speaks at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting, Tuesday, at the Hyatt’s Giovanni’s Restaurant. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

Muna said based on last year’s survey results, the reasons for homelessness included “unemployment and disability,” but “most of them just wanted to be that way.”

Rotarian Agnes M. McPhetres, chief executive officer of the Northern Marianas Trades Institute, said the CNMI lacks manpower yet there are people who have no work.

She said there are training centers where the homeless could learn self-sufficiency. “Is there a way for organizations to work together and find a way to solve this problem? I am really amazed — homelessness is not part of our culture.”

Muna said the first official homeless count was conducted as part of an application for a Continuum of Care grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD.

The 672 homeless individuals included 257 homeless families, and all were from Saipan, he added.

Based on HUD guidelines, Muna said a house is basically a concrete structure, but some homes in the CNMI are made of tin and plywood.

“In the eyes of the HUD that’s not considered a standard home,” he said. Some of the homeless on Saipan are not literally homeless but are residing in sub-standard or dilapidated structures, he added.

He said they have yet to determine the exact number of people who are literally homeless and the number of those living in structures that are considered unfit for human habitation.

The Homeless Coalition is scheduled to conduct another tally of homeless individuals on Jan. 27, Muna said, adding that they will probably include Rota and Tinian in the survey.

In an interview, Muna said they are anticipating the number of homeless in the next count to be the same or lower.

He noted that, last year, many people were still recovering from Typhoon Soudelor which damaged or destroyed many homes on Saipan in Aug. 2015.

Muna said they are currently looking for volunteers for the official homeless count. An orientation for volunteers is scheduled for Jan. 19 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the multi-purpose center.

He said the homeless count report will allow the coalition to avail itself of the Continuum of Care grant and fund projects that assist homeless individuals, including helping them find jobs and be more self-reliant.

The grant, he added, is very competitive and there are requirements to meet.

Muna said there is currently a homeless program through the Karidat Social Service, but the assistance is only temporary — up to 10 months worth of house rentals and utilities allowances.

Funding is also limited — $70,000 a year which can only accommodate up to six families a year, he added.

For more information about the Homeless Coalition, call Jacob Muna at 234-7689/483-9447 or email jjmuna@nmhc.gov.mp.