Breadfruit & Open Spaces features the residents of the Gill-Baza subdivision in Yigo, Guam. The residents are mostly recent migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia; most are from Chuuk and Yap and fewer are from Pohnpei and Kosrae. Collectively they formed an organization called the United Pacific Islanders’ Corporation in 2006.
This is no ordinary subdivision. There are no bus shelters or sidewalks, no paved roads, no telephone or cable lines, and there are only three streetlights to light the area’s nearly 23 acres. The residents run extension cords from power poles and connect hoses to water meters to get power and water to their homes. They struggle with minimal basic services while they battle for the basic infrastructure that was promised to them when they purchased the land.
On Guam, the majority of FSM citizens live in rental apartments or low-income housing. Sometimes they also squat in jungle areas or stay on ranches typically owned by Chamorro families (Chamorros are the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, which includes Guam) where small crops and a few animals may be kept. They make up a large proportion of the homeless population and are often displaced by damaging typhoons that frequently hit Guam (see Photo Gallery for images from Typhoon Pongsona).
Many FSM citizens on Guam hold labor-intensive jobs with low capital investment and can only purchase property that requires little or no down payment. In the Gill-Baza subdivision, lots sell for about $40,000, usually financed at 12 percent interest for a period of 20 to 30 years. The rising cost of rent elsewhere and the growing discrimination among owners reluctant to rent units to large families with low wage jobs coincided with the sale of land in the subdivision.
In January 2006 the residents were issued a Notice of Violation from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), threatening to evict them for failure to use proper sewage disposal. Although subdivisions are normally provided with an infrastructure by the developer, none of the sewer lines needed in Gill-Baza had been installed, and the installed water lines had problems. The residents filed lawsuits to obtain relief; and from 2006 to 2008, after several years of litigation, they won a major judgment and the lawsuits were recently concluded to their satisfaction.
(click on image to enlarge)
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