The Legislature’s Housing Committee recently held public hearings on bills to address the homeless crisis in Maine. I had two questions for those testifying: One, what is the root cause of homelessness; and two, how much would it cost to completely fix the “crisis” for the future?
In my mind, homelessness is caused by the lack of affordable housing, our mental health crisis, and market-based economics. The two bills we recently heard ( LD 2136 and LD 2138) are asking for $12.5 million to get low-barrier shelters through this year.
As someone who has been building all kinds of homes for 50 years, I understand how supply and demand are a key component in affordability. I also constantly search for new concepts to build them more energy efficient, more cost effective and less expensive to operate for the lifecycle of the home. Supply needs to increase to make housing more affordable.
Maine’s mental health crisis is a major part of the growing problem of homelessness across our state. I am no mental health expert, and need advice from mental health professionals for strategies that will help generate a permanent solution.
Economic conditions and the cost of daily living are also major contributors to homelessness. Bringing down prices requires a change in political leadership in Augusta and Washington, D.C. to leaders with that understanding of how ramifications of their actions contribute to this “crisis.”
Hopefully, service providers, the public, private sector and the homeless population can work together to define the needs, and identify creative cost effective solutions quickly! The current crisis is growing rapidly. We must identify the cause, the solution, provide an immediate action plan and implement solutions to the growing “crisis” immediately!
Rep. Richard Campbell