Friday, November 20, 2009

EIS: 79,178 new people on island by 2014

EIS: 79,178 new people on island by 2014

By Erin Thompson • Pacific Daily News • November 21, 2009

The population of Guam will reach 267,665 people at the peak of the military buildup, with 79,178 new people coming to the island by 2014, according to new estimates released in the Defense Department's buildup Draft Environmental Impact Statement yesterday.

Without the military buildup, planners estimate that Guam's population would remain at 190,042 in 2014, and only reach 222,166 people by 2030.

Bureau of Statistics and Plans Director Tony Lamorena said he was surprised by the estimated increase in population, which includes 33,126 off-island workers indirectly related to the buildup arriving by 2014. Lamorena said the last number he was given was an initial estimate in October of 53,786 for total off-island military personnel, dependents, workers and their families.

"The numbers we've been working with are obviously much lower than these numbers. It throws a monkey wrench into all our planning processes," said Lamorena, who had not yet reviewed the draft EIS document.

The increase in population will have significant impacts on the availability of affordable housing, according to Michael Duenas, chief planner for the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority.

"Were we looking just at natural growth, we would have to look at increasing the supply of housing targeted for families," said Duenas. GHURA provides housing opportunities for people at 80 percent or below of median household income -- approximately 52 percent of the island.

Using estimates that assumed only 58,000 to 61,000 new people would be living on Guam from the Guam Comprehensive Housing Study prepared in August this year, Duenas said GHURA would need to add 3,300 to 3,800 new affordable units by 2014.

Using the lower figures provided in the August study, Duenas said to meet total demand for the buildup, including low- and moderate-income units, Guam would need to increase its total production capacity for new houses by 2,600 units per year. According to Duenas, the private housing industry builds anywhere from 400 to 1,000 units per year, including homes for sales, rentals and single -- and multi-family residences.

Anthony Godwin, principal broker with Today's Realty and president-elect of the Guam Association of Realtors, said the private housing sector in Guam is ramping up to meet the needs.

"Whatever the requirements are, we will be able to meet their needs," said Godwin, who said the buildup would likely affect property values on the island. Godwin said he expects property values will only increase to the "general affordability of the population."

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