More people seeking Karidat help

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THE number of people seeking assistance from Karidat has significantly increased this month, its executive director Lauri Ogumoro said.

The Karidat office in Chalan Kanoa.  Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

In January, she said, 270 people sought assistance, but in just two weeks this month, 360 people have already done the same.

“And people continue to come,” she added.

In the past few years, she said, Karidat, a church-based charitable organization, provided help to a little over 200 individuals each month.

Ogumoro said there were “new faces” lining up over the last two weeks.

“We ask people when they come…. They said their hours have been reduced, they were furloughed or laid off because of low occupancies in the hotel where they work — no tourists,” she added.

Ogumoro said according to one woman, her work hours went down from 64 to 32.

Karidat anticipates to see more people needing assistance in the coming months as the local economy continues to reel from the impact of the global novel coronavirus outbreak.

Karidat provides assistance to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other violent crime. Its other programs include emergency food assistance, housing, and legal advocacy.

Asked for comment, House Minority Leader Edwin Propst said it was heartbreaking to hear what is happening to many workers and members of the community.

He said the governor should “demand” that the Saipan casino investor, Imperial Pacific International, “honor its commitment by contributing $37 million into the community benefit fund.”

“The governor needs to speak up and make a firm stand that IPI must honor its commitment,” Propst added.

IPI recently announced that it was reducing the work hours of its employees. In a statement, the casino operator said it “has struggled, our employees have struggled, and our ability to create a steady stream of income has suffered.”

For his part, Sen. Vinnie Sablan said there are lots of factors that affect the economy right now, some are “beyond our control,” but added that “some are in our control.”

He added, “Now what we really have to do is try to look for other industries. Right now, we are at the mercy of the tourism industry.”

He said the Legislature will continue to consider and pass measures that will help create new industries and improve the economy.

“We now have a cannabis industry coming in, and a hemp industry. All we have to do is look at how all these things can work for us,” Sablan said.

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