'More and more' homeless in Tumon, Tamuning

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — While Louise Rivera, mayor of Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon, can provide food to help the homeless individuals in her villages, she said, what these displaced residents really need is a safe place to stay.

The 2019 Point-In-Time homeless count showed there were 875 homeless individuals on Guam.

And of the hundreds, there are 27 in Tamuning and 15 in Tumon. While these numbers are fewer than other villages have reported, Rivera said, she's seen an increase in homeless individuals in her village.

Day after day, the mayor said, "we continue to see more and more that unfortunately get displaced from where they've been living."

According to Rivera, most individuals are left homeless after differences with family members.

Rivera has done what she can to assist these individuals, working with nonprofit organizations and the Guam Homeless Coalition to get the help they need.

She's also pleaded with the administration to help provide a place where these individuals can go.

  

Without a home to go to, Terry Tattao, Chief Aguon and Blaine Bamba spend time at the park near the mayor's office Wednesday in Tamuning. The village mayor said she has seen a rise in homeless people in Tamuning and Tumon. Photo by David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

"We cannot force them away, but we do want to help get them into some type of shelter and help them get the assistance that we offer as a community," she said.

The governor’s office and the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority have said they're working to find a solution for the island's homeless population. In March, that focus was redoubled as Covid-19 reached Guam's shores and this population was noted to be at high risk of being exposed and exposing others.

There was an effort to build a tent city at the Paseo de Susana in Hagåtña for the island's homeless shelter, but it was scrapped. The governor said last week the administration is trying to find a more permanent solution that will take the island beyond the Covid-19 response.

'I had no place to bring her'

In one park alone, Rivera said, there are about eight to 12 homeless people on a daily basis. Others take shelter in abandoned homes or buildings.

One recent night, she said, one individual — a senior citizen — stayed in the jungle close to where she used to live.

"I had no place to bring her," Rivera said.

With help from neighbors, the village was able to provide assistance, she said.

"There's a lot of good people out there, it's just an unfortunate circumstance that they fall into," Rivera said.

When people come and check on homeless people, they hide or run away, she added.

"We just try to assure them that we're here to help."

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