Consumer survey to be used for recomputing utility allowance

Posted on Jan 04 2012

The Northern Marianas Housing Corp. is planning to conduct a consumer survey that will be taken into consideration in the computation of its new utility allowance schedule for Section 8 and Multifamily Housing tenants.

Program and Housing Division manager Zerlyn Taimanao said yesterday that it was the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Field Office in Hawaii that recommended undertaking the survey for consumers who are not in their program.

“It’s because it could give an estimated amount as to what normally the consumption is per bedroom or the amount of people in the household,” she explained.

Taimanao disclosed that they have already finished the survey form.

“We’re working now to giving it to certain unassisted individuals. We’re looking at probably 100 respondents,” Taimanao told Saipan Tribune.

Taimanao believes that this would be the first consumer survey for housing due to the increase in the rates of Commonwealth Utilities Corp. last year.

“If there shows to be an increase by 10 percent or more in utilities, we have to adjust the utility schedule. But I guess before I came on board, there was no evidence of a 10-percent increase. Maybe close, but not 10 percent as opposed to last year,” she said.

Taimanao noted that the survey results will no longer be presented to the board during its next meeting but will just be considered in their new utility allowance schedule calculation, which has to be approved by the board.

In coming up with the new utility allowance schedule, Taimanao said they will also take into account the reality that CNMI residents in general do not use water heaters because of the island weather and electric stoves since most prefer butane or gas stoves.

This would affect the new utility allowance schedule, according to Taimanao. “It could either bring it down a little bit—not too much, just a little bit—or it could stay the same. It all depends on the results of the survey,” she added.

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