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Governor's Weekly Radio Address - July 5, 2011

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Published on Jul 4, 2011

It Takes a Village
By Governor Eddie Baza Calvo

Hafa adai my fellow Guamanians,

Since Ray and I took office, I've made it a point to raise awareness about poverty. It is one of our top strategic priorities to address the problems we have as a community by starting with the less fortunate. Poverty has many faces. We see it in the 1,500 who are homeless, the 43,000 on public assistance, the 10,000 looking for a job, the 11,500 who are only making minimum wage. Behind those numbers are people struggling to raise families. Many of you listening are wondering how you're going to make your next rent payment if you pay your car in full. You're worried about who will take care of your child when you go to work.

Since we began our quest to eradicate poverty, we've seen it first-hand. Ray and I have gone out to the villages to talk to you and to hear your worries. There are common problems -- you can't find work, you have too many bills to pay, you need your tax refund or your COLA. There is also a common solution. The only way to eliminate poverty is to improve the quality of life among the impoverished. We are pursuing many ways to do this.

The most obvious way to increase opportunities among working-class Guamanians is to
release all tax refunds owed to you at one time. This is nearly $300 million in wealth to about 44,000 Guamanians. If senators pass my bond proposal to make this happen, we
will inject this money into the economy and spur business activity and job creation.

I've also directed the agencies to quickly spend hundreds of millions in ARRA and HOT bond funding, along with the highway funding being spent on road construction right now. Together with the tax refunds, this amounts to over a half-a-billion dollars in cash circulating this year. But that's not all.

We've been courting visiting investors who are interested in Guam. Later this year I'll be leading trade missions throughout Asia to bring more investments here. The more money circulating in our economy, the more capital there is for businesses to hire people. Whether you're looking for entry-level work or you want to start a small business
of your own, a bigger economy means better opportunities for earning a living.

And more jobs means more money in your pocket. It means you'll have more for your bills and to begin saving for a home of your own. And once people start building their dreams, our economy will take on a life of its own. This is why we launched a major affordable housing initiative last week with Senator Tina Muna Barnes.

We want you to have the dream of homeownership even before this military buildup gets busy. The price of homes are getting expensive and out of reach for most Guamanians. But, by being creative and by partnering with the private sector and federal government, we've found realistic ways to bring your dream of homeownership closer to your income. And if you can go from paying the rent to paying a mortgage, then we will be bringing you further away from poverty.

We'll be rehabilitating depressed communities, disposing of the old 'poor-only communities,' and encouraging multi-income neighborhoods. We've just allowed Chamorro Land Trust recipients to get loans up to $60,000 from GHURA to improve their homes. We are working with Senator Barnes to provide greater incentives to developers that will drive down the cost of homes. And we have a partnership with her, the private sector, non-profit organizations and government agencies to meet the goal of building 3,000 affordable homes by 2017.

This is your island. You are the first people who should reap the rewards of a promising economy. We can do this. We can end poverty and we can make your dream of homeownership a reality together. It really does take a village. And we're not going to stop until every village is painted with the happy faces of children playing in the yards of homes that will one day be theirs.

Thank you, Si Yu'os en Fan-binendisi, and God bless!

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