Clockwise, from bottom left: Tyler Rowe; Joe Leonard; Mike Maberry; Dan Smith; Stephen Brough Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The BDN is exploring Maine’s housing crisis from every possible angle, from how it affects home prices, to what it means for Mainers across the state. Read our ongoing coverage here and fill out this form to tell us what you want to know.

The five candidates running to replace the late Sarah Dubay on the Bangor City Council said that a lack of housing for residents at all income levels was the most pressing issue for Bangor.

Dubay, who was elected to the council in 2020, passed away last fall after a battle with lung cancer. A special election will take place on June 14 to succeed her, and the winner will serve the remainder of her term until November 2023.

The five men running to replace her — Stephen Brough, Joseph Leonard, Michael Maberry, Tyler Rowe and Daniel Smith — spoke at a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Maine on Thursday night at Bangor City Hall.

They listed the city’s increasing homeless population, a lack of housing and rising taxes as their top-of-mind issues.

Brough said he was concerned about Bangor’s rising cost of living and increasing mill rate, which added financial stress on senior citizens and disabled people on fixed incomes, and young families.

“Bangor is simply getting too expensive for these people,” Brough said. He proposed capping the mill rate and other budget line items, with exceptions for cost-of-living adjustments for city staff, and sending increases out to voters for approval.

Maberry, the director of student life at Husson University, said his students found it difficult to find any off-campus housing, let alone affordable housing, in Bangor.

“There is a gap between rent and amenities,” Maberry said, adding that existing housing stock was old and out-of-state landlords were not held accountable for upkeep. He proposed changing zoning regulations to attract new housing development, and for Bangor to advocate for more resources at the state level. 

Smith suggested reaching out to area churches to involve them in solutions to housing homeless people.

“There are no problems, only solutions,” he said. He reiterated his plan to push the Bangor City Council to send out surveys periodically to gauge residents’ satisfaction with government operations and quality of life in the city.

Rowe proposed a program through which Bangor would use its $20 million in COVID relief funds to disburse 200 grants of up to $100,000 to help applicants build rental properties with four or more units, to increase the housing stock. Priority would be given to residents of Bangor and the local region, he said.

Leonard pointed out that the University of Maine had won a $35 million grant to research building 3D-printed housing, which would add to the housing stock and also create jobs.

“I know that solution and many design solutions I bring up, they seem like they are out of reach,” Leonard said. “But this is the future of infrastructure.”

Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.