NMHC holds first virtual public hearing

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THE Northern Marianas Housing Corporation held its very first virtual public hearing on Tuesday morning to discuss the substantial amendments to the NMHC Citizen Participation Plan, the CNMI-NMHC Five-Year Consolidated Plan (2015-2019), and the Program Year 2019 Annual Action Plan.

NMHC Corporate Director Jesse Palacios, Deputy Corporate Director Zenie Mafnas, procurement officer Jacob Muna, planner Tricia Tenorio, and planning assistant Sweetielyn Sokau conducted the hearing while ensuring that they adhered to social distancing practices, as recommended by health experts.

The NMHC planning team reported that amendments made to the Citizen Participation Plan included reducing public comment period for substantial amendments from 30 days to five days, reducing notice of public hearings from 14 days to three days, holding virtual hearings when public hearings at a designated site are not feasible due to extenuating circumstances, and increasing the threshold to issue a reprogramming public notice from $50,001 to $100,001.


The Northern Marianas Housing Corporation planning team members, from left, planner Tricia Tenorio, procurement officer Jacob Muna, Deputy Corporate Director Zenie Mafnas, and planning assistant Sweetielyn Sokau. Not in photo: Corporate Director Jesse Palacios. NMHC photo

They added that the Citizen Participation Plan is “a pathway for citizens to exercise their voice and influence decisions that affect their communities, neighborhood, and ways of life.”

Amendments made to the CNMI-NMHC Five-Year Consolidated Plan (2015-2019) and the Program Year 2019 Annual Action Plan included prioritizing disaster response and recovery goals.

According to NMHC, these changes entail allocating funding to the construction, rehabilitation, and/or acquisition of public facilities that will address disaster needs, allocating funding to public service activities that will address disaster needs, as well as addressing homelessness in the time of disaster.

The team reported that NMHC anticipates $549,270 in additional Community Development Block Grant-Covid-19 allocation, of which 5% will be retained at NMHC for planning and administrative costs, and 95% will be allocated to the purchase of a mobile clinic for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation.

It was also reported that NMHC estimates $275,414 in Hearth Act-Emergency Solutions Grant-Covid-19 allocation, of which 10% will be retained at NMHC for planning and administrative costs.

Ninety percent of the Hearth Act-Emergency Solutions Grant-Covid-19 allocation will go towards the Homeless Management Information System, the Housing Relocation and Stabilization Services, rapid rehousing assistance for homeless families, and homelessness prevention assistance for at-risk families.

These programs will cover security deposit, rental assistance, utility deposit, and utility assistance, the NMHC planning team explained.

The team noted that public hearings are required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development when substantial amendments are proposed.

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