People in the CNMI whose homes were either destroyed or damaged by previous typhoons and want to rebuild or fix their homes can now check with the Northern Marianas Housing Corp. to find out if they qualify for disaster assistance via a loan. If their income is low enough, that loan will be converted into an outright grant that they won’t have to pay.
It was learned that, starting last Jan. 4, 2021, NMHC began accepting prequalification applications for three programs under the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Housing programs—the Homebuyer Program, the New Construction Program, and the Homeowner Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program. Loan prequalification applications are being accepted on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
NMHC executive director Jesse Palacios is encouraging the community to apply.
On Saipan, NMHC is taking applications at its central office in Garapan. On Tinian, applications are being accepted at the Northern Marianas College campus, and on Rota at the Sinapalo Youth Center, from 8am to 3pm, Monday through Friday. Applicants should bring an identification card (driver’s license, Mayor of Saipan ID, passport (for applicants only), and birth certificate for everyone in the household, a copy of six recent check stubs for all adult household members, social security card, and retirement income statements (if applicable), and a copy of the certification of title, deed, or residential homestead permit.
According to Palacios, there is approximately $77 million available for people who want to build homes or fix the damage caused by typhoons. He clarified, though, that in order to avail of the funds, one of the requirements for those who just want to fix their homes is for applicants to have lived in the CNMI three years prior to submitting an application.
Palacios added that they prefer that applicants apply at the central office so that he and his team can give on-the-spot approval for the prequalification applications. Once found eligible, that’s when NMHC will give eligible applicants the actual application form with other requirements. NMHC has set up a canopy outside their office in Garapan with CBDG-DR loan specialists who are assigned to help assist interested applicants for the housing program.
For those who can’t go in-person, NMHC has the prequalification application on their website, www.nmhcgov.net, but Palacios still encourages people to go in-person so that NMHC can help them fill the application.
Palacios stated that NMHC is targeting the elderly and people with disabilities. “We know that they are the ones who need most of the assistance,” said Palacios.
He stated that the loans will be income-based. The lower the applicants’ income is, the lower would be the amount that they would have to pay back. He added that all income must be accounted for when calculating a family’s annual income, including Supplemental Security Income, working income, retirement income, etc.
For example, for a family of two, if they are making $11,600 annually together, and they get approved for the loan, they won’t have to pay back the amount and it will be considered a grant, according to Palacios.
“If you are making $11,600 or below, then you get a grant. You don’t have to pay back anything that is used to either, if you’re going to buy a house because you don’t have one, or you have one and the typhoon damaged it. You don’t have to pay anything because you fall under this income bracket ($11,600/annually). This is what HUD considers extremely low income,” said Palacios. HUD is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Palacios stated that the applicant must be the owner of the home. People who are turning in applications for their relatives must have a notarized letter saying that they are authorized to handle all requirements for the CBDG-DR applications.
NMHC has so far seen over 10 applicants for the CBDG-DR prequalification.