Stakeholders join to address housing needs on Guam
The UOG Center for Island Sustainability (CIS) and Sea Grant were honored to be a part of the first Guam Homeless Coalition Conference at the Hyatt Regency Guam on Nov. 10, 2022.
Sponsored by the Office of the Governor and hosted in collaboration with Guam Green Growth, the conference brought together agencies, NGO’s and individuals working together to find solutions for the unhoused population of Guam.
Panelist Leinani Naholowa’a from Catholic Social Services applauded the summit’s ability to bring together stakeholders and groups wanting to make a difference for the houseless community.
“We need to have more conversations. There is so much stigma surrounding homelessness, there is so much stigma surrounding mental health problems, around family violence, and it is perpetuating this on our island because we don’t want to talk about it,” explained Naholowa.
Nahalowa would like to see the efforts grow to include the entire island community doing what they can to address the housing crisis on Guam.
“The only way we are going to break these stigmas so that we can work together as a community, and not just everyone in the room who are already doing the work, is to hold more spaces and have more conversations about these hard topics,” she added.
CIS and Sea Grant personnel facilitated panel discussions, break-out sessions, and on-line streaming to assist with the positive flow of the event. Many attendees expressed their appreciation for being face-to–face with colleagues they had previously known only from emails and phone calls.
The conversations and interactions among participants were lively, productive, and positive. Captain Yasmin Acosta of the Salvation Army, impressed by a panelist’s comments during the Real Estate and Landlords panel, asked how to cultivate finding more landlords as compassionate as him.
Landlord Sinforoso Tolentino replied that they should continue their proactive approach with solid, on-going communication between tenants, property owners, and service providers. Tolentino praised the efforts of the Salvation Army team for their rapid responses to any issues that arise.
Attendees expressed their appreciation of the conference and how it facilitated interagency and service provider dialogues about what the various agencies were doing and what still needs to be done. Although the conference addressed a daunting problem, the people in the room were committed to taking positive steps toward making a difference.