June 21, 2024
Thumbnail depicting Michael Beck speaking before the Bangor City Council, with the title "Comprehensive Strategic Plan Needed"
Michael Beck urged Bangor City Council to facilitate creating a comprehensive strategic plan to address housing, substance use disorder, and mental health.

On April 10, 2023, I urged Bangor City Council to facilitate creating a comprehensive strategic plan to address housing, substance use disorder, and mental health. You can read the transcript of my full comments below.

Full Comments

I am here to urge you to make and take action on a plan to address the critical issues of housing, substance use disorder, and mental health in our city. While I appreciate your efforts to get the ARPA application process underway, it is only one small step towards addressing the root causes of the problems that our community faces. 

As Maine’s Director of Opioid Response, Gordon Smith highlighted last week, we need a holistic approach to effectively combat the opioid crisis and its devastating impacts on our community. 

We need a comprehensive strategic plan that outlines clear goals, objectives, strategies, and metrics. We need a plan that leverages existing resources, identifies gaps and opportunities for improvement. The city must create the mechanisms for collaboration between city departments, nonprofit organizations, health care providers, businesses, and residents, especially those with lived experience. The plan and the city’s progress must be communicated transparently to the community. 

Last week, the Council announced that there is already a lot of money coming into Bangor to address homelessness, and that we could give every unhoused person $50,000 and still not run out of money. That statistic, if true, certainly illustrates the lack of coordination among organizations. As Mr. Smith pointed out, the city has to build the infrastructure for that coordination to take place. So long as this city lacks a comprehensive strategic plan for addressing these issues, that lack of coordination will continue.  

That lack also costs us opportunities for funding and resources, such as when we learned that the reason additional detox beds weren’t funded by the state for Bangor is because nobody from Bangor applied.  That should have been a jaw dropping moment for all of you. It was for me. It also goes to show that without a plan, there is no accountability.

I urge you to begin working with the community on creating such a plan as soon as possible. We need to put our heads together and collaborate to create a culture of inclusive support that works for the success of all.

We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors who are struggling with housing insecurity, addiction, and mental health challenges. We owe it to our future generations who will inherit the legacy of our actions or inactions today. 

Thank you. I appreciate your time and attention.