In the last three years since 2016, the Department of Public Lands has processed 630 homestead program applications on Saipan alone. That means that, as of last month, the 2,923 homestead applicants on Saipan since 2016 has been reduced to 2,293, according to Public Lands Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo.
In a presentation last week at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan, Concepcion-Teregeyo said that DPL is also active in reviewing current homesteads and revoking homestead permits that have been awarded 15 years or more ago and no home has been built on the lot—one of the requirements.
Homesteaders with structural damage on their house due to a storm are given extra time. “We go out and take photos of what the property looks like, and also after the storm. We have our own documents to indicate where we are at structure-wise before we revoke them,” Teregeyo said.
DPL issues warning notices to applicants before homesteads are revoked. When a homestead lot is revoked, homesteaders can appeal the revocation at the DPL hearing office.
The goal of the homestead program is to give land to those of Northern Marianas descent. Homesteaders pay a $50 permit and have to build a house on the lot within three years. The size and structure of the home does not matter, as long as there is a functioning restroom and a functioning kitchen.
DPL’s Homestead Division is one of the mandates of the CNMI Constitution. DPL is required to dispose of public lands which include the issuance of village and agricultural homesteads.
The DPL no longer issues agricultural homesteads in Saipan, but still does so in Tinian and Rota, and recently, on the island of Pagan.