Affordable Housing for Bangor, Maine

The housing crisis has reached a breaking point.

  • People are being priced out of their homes, and without affordable housing options, they become unhoused.
  • People who have been chronically homeless need consistent and appropriate supportive services in order to be successfully remain housed. We’re short on both housing and support capacity.
  • Small businesses are struggling to find employees since workforce housing is in limited supply and largely unaffordable.

Excerpt from the 1944 Annual Report for Bangor, Maine: "During the past three years, a new problem has come to Bangor in the form of a lack of suitable housing. Altogether too many of Bangor's people are residing under improper conditions, conditions which are only tending to undermine the health of the community and to increase our deliquency problems. Some step must be taken to make better quarters available to these people and to compel the maintenance of standards thus established. While your management recognizes the problem, and is frank to bring it up for discussion, it does not yet have the answer to it. We recognize only that provisions for new and better quarters must be made at a cost within the means of these people before the present housing can be condemned."

Nearly 80 years of housing shortages

In the city of Bangor’s 1944 Annual Report, City Manager Horace S. Estey started sounding the alarm that we didn’t have enough suitable housing. We needed new housing, and it needed to be affordable.

In 1946 the city of Bangor held a number of meetings regarding housing. It was determined that private industry was the answer to solving the housing shortage.

That became the official city position, and we’ve been in a perpetual housing crisis ever since.

Isn’t it time to try something different?

Revolutionizing Housing Solutions: A Bold Committee for a Better Bangor

The housing crisis in Bangor demands more than just talk. It requires bold action and innovative strategies. As your future City Councilor, I’m committed to sparking real change, and one way we can do this is by establishing a groundbreaking committee on Housing.

Why a committee and not a work group?

Unlike a work group, this Housing Committee wouldn’t be formed for the purpose of creating a single report and then disbanded. This committee is designed to be an ongoing dynamic force for change. Here’s how:

1. Inclusive Expertise: We’ll assemble a diverse team of individuals, including organizations at the forefront of this crisis, seasoned experts, and, most importantly, individuals with lived experiences. These individuals are uniquely qualified to identify the barriers in our homeless response system because they’ve faced those barriers firsthand.

2. Strategic and Actionable: The committee’s primary mission will be to create a strategic plan that doesn’t just outline issues but provides clear, decisive, and actionable solutions. We’re not here to dream; we’re here to turn those dreams into reality.

3. Continuous Progress: The work doesn’t stop at the plan’s creation. Our committee will be an ongoing force, continually meeting to update the plan as necessary. The committee will ensure that the city remains accountable for implementing these crucial changes.

Action Over Apathy

We can’t afford to treat this crisis with complacency. It’s time for our city to take proactive steps, to prioritize action over apathy. As one of your city councilors, I’ll be in the trenches, working tirelessly to ensure that the committee’s recommendations translate into tangible improvements.

Our community deserves better. We can and will address this crisis head-on, but it requires a change in how we approach it. The transformation begins here, with this committee.

The Committee’s Key Principles

  1. Inclusivity and Equity: The committee must include members with diverse backgrounds, including individuals with lived experiences of homelessness, experts in housing policy, representatives from local organizations, and community leaders. This diversity will help in understanding and addressing the various dimensions of the housing crisis.
  2. Data-Driven Decision-Making: Data is crucial. The committee will make data collection, analysis, and sharing a central principle of their work. This includes collecting data on homelessness, housing availability, and the effectiveness of interventions. They will use this data to inform decision-making and measure progress.
  3. Coordination and Collaboration: The committee will prioritize coordination and collaboration between government agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, and other stakeholders involved in housing and homelessness services. Establish formal mechanisms for regular communication and information sharing to avoid duplication of efforts and maximize resources.
  4. Community Engagement: The committee will actively involve the community in their work. They will hold public hearings, forums, and consultations to gather input from residents, especially those affected by homelessness. Ensure that the voices of the unhoused are heard and respected, giving them equal footing in decisions that affect them.
  5. Transparency and Accountability: Transparency must be maintained in the committee’s processes and decision-making. The committee will publish meeting minutes, reports, and updates to keep the public informed. Clear accountability mechanisms will be established to ensure that proposed solutions are implemented effectively.
  6. Pragmatic Solutions: The committee will emphasize the development of practical, evidence-based solutions that can make a real impact on homelessness in Bangor. They must avoid solutions that are overly theoretical or unrealistic given the city’s resources and constraints.
  7. Long-Term Vision: While addressing immediate needs is essential, the committee must also focus on long-term planning and sustainability. They will develop a comprehensive housing strategy that addresses both short-term crisis management and long-term housing stability.
  8. Flexibility and Adaptability: We must recognize that the housing crisis is dynamic and may evolve over time. The committee should remain flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances, revising its strategies as needed to stay effective.
  9. Advocacy and Partnerships: The committee will advocate for policies and resources at the state and federal levels that can support Bangor’s efforts to address homelessness. Through the committee the city will build strong ongoing partnerships with regional and national organizations that can provide expertise and funding.
  10. Compassion and Dignity: The committee, and the city, must uphold the principles of compassion and human dignity in all interactions and interventions. Individuals experiencing homelessness must always be treated with respect and empathy, and ensure that services are designed to preserve their dignity.

Moving Forward

As your future City Councilor, I pledge to bring these ideas to the table, engage experts, and work with our community to find the best way forward. Our goal is clear: to create more housing, improve well-being, and ensure no one in Bangor is left without a safe place to call home.

I believe in progress, not politics as usual. Let’s think outside the box, innovate, and work together to build a brighter future for Bangor.

Vote for me, Michael Beck, on November 7th for Bangor City Council.