In 2005, Iron Bridge founded Guam’s affordable housing program. Guam had a notable, pent-up demand for affordable housing due to several existing conditions on the island. First, high construction costs and typhoon and earthquake codes made it difficult to construct new units and lease and operate them at local market rates. Second, the U.S. military provides relatively generous off-base housing allowances on Guam, so the better and newer rental units were occupied by U.S. military personnel. The governor at the time recognized a need, and he asked if we could help Guam solve their housing affordability problem.
At the same time, since 1986, Guam had received an annual minimum allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs), but no one locally had ever taken the time to officially launch the program. Therefore, Iron Bridge researched the process and worked with the Government of Guam to officially start their program in 2005. We also worked with the U.S. Treasury Department and the top official who had previously directed Guam’s credits to other states such as California.
Our projects each feature community centers where we provide free social programs, including after-school care, computer labs, girl scouts, karate classes, financial counseling, and parent’s night out programs. We are particularly proud of our Ironkids program, in which the children in our communities can participate in afterschool care where first they get their homework done and then enjoy snacks and organized fun activities and sports. The Ironkids program is funded by principals of Iron Bridge and administered by an affiliated non-profit. We have also received grants and donations and run a subsidized day camp during the summers. Our Ironkids have even cleaned up a local beach with the then-Secretary of the Interior.
When our first project was nearly finished, we were unable to find a local management company on Guam to lease the units and process the somewhat complex tenant income compliance documents, as each tenant must be income qualified and independently verified. So, we formed our own property management company to manage all of our housing projects. We currently employ all of the staff in Guam and Saipan to manage and maintain the units and run the social programs. We also outsource specialty work to a number of other local firms.
Our financing partners have included Citibank (our lender in every project), the Richman Group, Aegon Transamerica, and Goldman Sachs via R4. Each project was completed on time and on budget, We currently operate consistently above 97% occupancy across the portfolio.