Saipan Correspondent


CHALAN KANOA, Saipan — The Northern Mariana Islands lost more than 2,500 housing units between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest statistical data by the US Census Bureau.

On top of this, the Northern Marianas Housing Corp, in the 2020 to 2024 Consolidated Plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, identified three main housing problems on island – substandard housing, overcrowding, and housing cost burdens, with 85% of extremely low to middle income households affected.

To encourage the construction and rehabilitation of low-income rental units, NMHC has been managing the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, as established by the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Currently, there are seven LIHTC projects in the CNMI: Sandy Beach Homes in Chalan Kanoa, Ironwood Saipan in Gualo Rai, Tasi Homes in Chalan Hagoi and Beach Road, Saipan Comfort Homes located next to the Northern Marianas College, Isa Villas I in Capitol Hill, Zen Homes in Gualo Rai, and Ocean Ridge Homes along Beach Road — with 348 housing units in total.

NMHC director Jesse S. Palacios, director of the NMHC, told the Journal that his office has four more approved developments on the horizon.

Of the existing LIHTC projects, three have been developed and are being managed by Triple J Saipan Inc. — Sandy Beach Homes, Saipan Comfort Homes, and Ocean Ridge Homes.

Triple J Saipan, Inc. has also been approved by the NMHC for a fourth LIHTC project, Palm Breeze Homes which proposed 44 units, all with three bedrooms. Discussions with a syndicator for investors are ongoing for that project.

“Triple J Saipan Inc.’s LIHTC homes offer qualifying households the opportunity to experience quality homes,” Rachel M. Roque, property manager for the Triple J Real Estate Division, told the Journal.

“A wholesome environment, convenience, security, and comfort, among other services, may motivate our residents to pursue options for future financial stability.  LIHTC properties enhance and revitalize our neighborhoods, as well as stimulate growth in the local housing market.” 

Roque said that the seven-story Sandy Beach Homes, which opened in 2011, was the first LIHTC property to be developed in the NMI. All of its 60 three-bedroom, two-bathroom units are semi-furnished with energy-efficient major appliances, with more than 1,400 square feet of living space.

Ocean Ridge Homes, with 48 three-bedroom, two-bathroom units each at 1,400 square feet, is located along Beach Road and is the latest of Triple J Real Estate’s LIHTC affordable housing projects.
Photo by Iva Maurin

Saipan Comfort Homes, established in 2017, has 40 two-bedroom two-bathroom units spacious at 1,000 square feet each, also semi-furnished with energy efficient major appliances. Early last year, Triple J Saipan opened Ocean Ridge Homes with 48 three-bedroom, two-bathroom units, each at 1,400 square feet.

In addition to kitchen appliances and air conditioning, amenities at the three LIHTC developments include a solar water heater and a washer and dryer in each unit, along with a full power generator and water catchment system, and a shared space, either a pavilion or a court, for tenants and guests to use.

Roque said, “The federal government issues tax credits to state and insular governments. State housing agencies such as NMHC then award the credits to private developers of affordable rental housing projects through a competitive process. Equity contributed by the investors provides substantial funding assistance, thereby allowing the units to be available for rent at below-market rates,” she said.

Once the housing project is made available to tenants, investors can claim the tax credits. “After each project completion, these affordable housing developments are obligated to comply with federal and state requirements for a period set by NMHC within established federal guidelines,” Roque said.

All of Triple J’s LIHTC homes average more than 90% occupancy.

Roque said one reason why LIHTC is successful is it not only boosts the supply of affordable rental housing on island, but also minimizes the cost to government while maximizing private investment. “It also allows for a strong role for state governments in setting priorities and administering the program while requiring minimal federal involvement,” she said. “Not only do we provide homes to families, our units also welcome non-related household members, such as friends and roommates. Triple J Saipan Inc. is more than pleased to provide essential quality housing to a large number of residents for over almost 10 years.” 

For more information on Triple J Real Estate’s LIHTC homes, call (670) 235-1357 or visit mbj

Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program in the NMI
Project nameCredits# of units
Sandy Beach Homes$26,877,00060
Ironwood Saipan$44,890,10080
Tasi Homes$32,899,51049
Saipan Comfort Homes$9,523,79040
Isa Villas I$20,306,26027
Zen Homes$29,081,47044
Ocean Ridge Homes$40,085,37048

Source: Northern Marianas Housing Corp.