July 21, 2024

Selfie of Michael Beck at the Maine State House on June 1, 2023. He spoke about the need to address housing shortages at the Maine People's Alliance "Fund Our Future" rally.

The Maine People’s Alliance organized a rally called “Fund Our Future” at the Maine State House on June 1, 2023. I was invited to speak on the issue of housing in our state, and I was honored to do so.

Click here to read the article from the Maine Beacon covering the event.

My Remarks for the “Fund Our Future” Rally – June 1, 2023 – Augusta, Maine 

Hello, my name is Michael Beck, and I’m a housing activist in the Bangor area. 

It’s no secret the state of Maine’s housing system is broken. In fact, right now, it is in a dire crisis because so many people are unable to afford or even find stable housing.  

We’re all here today because the forecast of status quo housing policies is bleak. The current policies are insufficient and ineffective, and they certainly do not cast a vision where future generations of Mainers will have safe, affordable, and available housing. 

The truth is, we are not following the best practices and standards for reducing homelessness that have been proven to work in other states and cities. 

The truth is, we are fighting a battle in the State House between the right to live vs. someone’s right to profit from it. 

The truth is, we are failing our most vulnerable citizens, and we are failing ourselves.

Current and future Mainers deserve a different, more hopeful vision – one where the decision to move is driven by the pursuit of new opportunities, growth, and personal aspirations, rather than being forced to frantically find new housing out of desperation and fear of homelessness as the result of their landlord’s personal financial decision. 

We have a vision of a Maine where no one has to sleep on the streets or in shelters ever again…where no parent lies awake at night grappling with how to explain to their children they have to move away from their friends again. Or experience the heart-wrenching reality of tucking their child in at night in the backseat of a car instead of a warm bed. 

Enough is enough. I’m here today calling on all of our representatives in Augusta to FUND OUR FUTURE. We’re imploring you to pass and fund policies which care for Mainers today, and help us build a future where everyone can thrive. 

In 2023 in the wealthiest country on Earth, it is unfathomable and unconscionable that we exist in a system where housing is not treated as a basic human right. 

It’s long past time for our vision to become reality. This housing crisis is a problem for our economy, our health, our safety, and our dignity as people and as a state. Enough is enough. 

There’s so much we need to do to fix Maine’s housing crisis, including building many new homes that people can actually afford to live in. But that takes time and is only one piece to the puzzle – we need to support people at the mercy of Maine’s current housing market, TODAY.

That means taking full stock of the real-time needs of low-income and houseless residents of our towns and cities. It also means having a real-time, living network of resources which allow local organizations and agencies to work together to support these same residents to find and maintain housing. 

Working data systems inform legislators to write and enact policies which make sense for our state. It ensures they set a new precedent for the kind of Maine we want our children and future Mainers to inherit: Laws which provide appropriate rental assistance where and when Mainers need it. Laws which prohibit tenant discrimination from time of application through termination of contract. Laws which protect tenants from abuse, and hold landlords responsible for offering and maintaining safe, affordable, and adequate housing. Legislators need to take concrete steps to KEEP MAINERS IN THEIR HOMES.

We all know the state is in a housing crisis. And we know that to fix it, we need to take action to help people NOW, as we build for the future. Legislators, we demand that you pass and fund policies that will help Maine meet this moment. 

Thank you.