Friday, September 25, 2009

Population Growth Creates Housing Problems

Population growth creates housing issues
Friday, 25 September 2009 00:57 by Jude Lizama
Marianas Variety News Staff .

THE island’s civilian population is projected to increase by approximately 50,000 people by 2025, requiring approximately 10,800 new housing units mostly in the northern and central part of the island which is expected to absorb about 80 percent of the growth, according to the draft Northern and Central Guam Land Use Plan.
The report prepared by ICF International and released by the Bureau of Statistics and Plans cited studies indicating that over the past 20 years, the island’s population has steadily increased at an annual rate of 1.6 percent, and has historically been closely tied in with local United States military installations.

While housing availability has been relatively level with population growth, the island community has experienced increasing strain due to the lack of affordability.

Local rates of home ownership, which stands at 48 percent, are well below the U.S. national average of 66 percent.

However, efforts to find solutions to satisfy the increasing housing availability needs of the local community have been at the forefront for some time.

Three main housing issue goals proposed by the land use plan cited the need to designate sufficient land area for provide various housing types and prices, increase home ownership, and encourage a variety of housing choices in the northern and central portions of the island.

Based on the three main goals cited in the plan, a plethora of additional policies were cited in order to achieve the mentioned goals including the establishment of various land use categories; implementing zoning categories to provide proper single and multi-family development densities; administering land use plans to ensure land availability; providing opportunities, education, and counseling for first time homebuyers; and implementing affordable housing measures to increase affordable permanent housing availability.

The land use plan also suggested taking advantage of the construction worker “influx” related to the ongoing military buildup by encouraging temporary worker housing to be eventually converted to permanent housing developments.

Incentives for larger residential developments such as “density increases” or “flexibility in development standards” were also suggested in the housing study. Additionally, an increase in housing availability opportunities for both persons with disabilities, and “supportive and transitional housing for homeless individuals and families” also made the long list of projected policy goals.

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