Many people started lining yesterday at the Governor’s Office mailroom on Capital Hill to pick up pre-application forms for the $10.4-million COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
When Saipan Tribune checked the mailroom at 11am, a total of 321 pre-application forms have already been handed out.
Victoria T. Guerrero, protocol officer to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I, Palacios, has been assisting those getting and dropping pre-application forms.
Guerrero said there was a long line shortly after they opened at 7:30am yesterday; they closed yesterday at 4:30pm.
OGM started accepting and receiving the pre-applications Tuesday at the Governor’s Office mailroom. OGM also started sending the pre-application forms to Tinian and Rota on Tuesday. The forms can be picked up and dropped at their respective mayor’s office.
The OGM said they are still working with the U.S. Department of Treasury and U.S. Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) for more guidance to ascertain whether foreign workers and those with other immigration status are eligible for rental aid.
One foreign worker who requested that she be identified only as Marites, asked her husband, who is also a foreign worker, to get the pre-application form after seeing the announcement on Facebook.
Maritess said they were driving around Capital Hill because they did not know the exact location of the mailroom.
She and her husband felt bad when Saipan Tribune told them that as of now, only U.S. citizens and green card holders are eligible, per OGM’s announcement.
Marites and her husband have a 15-year-old child, who is a U.S. citizen.
Marites worked for many years at a Saipan hotel but was furloughed in March because of the pandemic. She was subsequently terminated last August. Her husband, a tractor driver, lost his job last April. They said they only survive because of food stamps and doing all kinds of part-time jobs.
The couple said their main problem is paying their $400 monthly rent. They said their landlord has given them only tomorrow, Friday, to pay the rent or else they will be evicted.
“It’s the other way around now. Our family in the Philippines is now sending money to us here,” said the husband, who also asked not to be identified.
The CNMI was awarded $10,400,669 for rental assistance and utility relief through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program under the recently enacted Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
OGM administrator Epiphanio Cabrera Jr. said the program aims to reduce evictions and to keep CNMI citizens in stable homes, especially during the COVID-19 emergency.
Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of rental assistance plus an additional three months, depending on the household’s circumstances.
Payments to existing household-related arrears as far back as March 13, 2020, will be prioritized before consideration of any future rent payments.