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NEWS: Terlaje’s bill to protect tenants during emergency heard today

By Johnnie Rosario

(Tumon, Guam) Today, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee released news about Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas and the committee of which he is the vice chairman working on a second round of economic relief for the American people. Part of this relief effort is additional protections for Americans, including the residents of the territories, against evictions and foreclosures.

The Guam Legislature took up local legislation that will protect tenants against eviction.

The following is news from the Office of Sen. Therese Terlaje:

A public hearing was held today for Bill No. 321-35 (COR), authored by Senator Therese Terlaje, which intends to protect residential tenants from eviction during a proclamation of a State of Emergency or Public Health Emergency by making it unlawful to evict any residential tenant after the proclamation of a State of Emergency or Public Health Emergency and for a period of 30 days following that proclamation or declaration.

According to Terlaje, the economic impacts of COVID-19 have been significant and threaten to undermine housing security. CDC confirms that homelessness can exacerbate vulnerability to COVID-19 and other public health threats.  Consistent with the Executive Order putting a moratorium on evictions, this measure is meant to put similar protections in statute and extend for a reasonable period beyond the emergency to increase housing security.

During the hearing, several senators urged that relief be extended to landlords and tenants from available federal funds. According to Senator Therese Terlaje, the Deputy Director of GEDA was looking into aid,  and the Governor’s Executive Order has directed DRT to look for foreclosure relief.

Speaker Tina Muna Barnes also pointed to findings that housing relief would be consistent with federal guidelines. Housing aid is not yet indicated as a priority on the CARES budget submitted recently by the Bureau of Budget and Management Research.

“Many are still waiting for unemployment compensation and financial assistance. It is important for the health of our community that we continue this safety net during the emergency and for at least 30 days beyond that period to protect these vulnerable members of the community from losing their place of shelter and safety while the aid programs are put in place and we rebuild our economy,” stated the Senator.
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