Bangor city councilors have made a decision on the last of 60 applications submitted by local groups seeking a piece of the more than $20 million in pandemic relief funding the city received more than two years ago .
Councilors voted 5-2 on Wednesday to fully fund the Bangor Health Equity Alliance’s request for approximately $694,700 to establish a resource at the organization’s location at 304 Hancock Street center. The center will serve individuals most affected by substance use disorders, homelessness and mental health disorders.
The vote on the last of the initial 60 applications raised the question of what will happen with remaining funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Before Wednesday’s awards, the city had about $4.8 million left, which it must earmark by Dec. 31, 2024, and spend by the end of 2027.
After United Way reviewed and ranked 60 funding applications received by the city earlier this year, councilors spent the summer compiling the applications and making decisions. The arduous process comes two years after the city received $20.8 million in one-time funding from the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, and the city has some money left over.
Using remaining unallocated funds, councilors could choose to revisit applications from local organizations the city has chosen not to fund, using the funds for city needs such as installing public bathrooms or other uses.
Lawmakers have yet to decide the next steps for funding.
The Bangor Health Equity Alliance’s resource center will be open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with hopes to expand evening hours later, and will be a place for people, especially those who are homeless or A safe place for people who regularly use drugs. , you can go during the day.
The location will be staffed by licensed and certified alcohol and drug counselors, peer recovery coaches and harm reduction experts and managers, according to the nonprofit’s application. These professionals can work with employers to build connections and trust with the goal of connecting people with housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment and other opportunities.
Services at the resource center will include HIV and hepatitis C testing, hepatitis A vaccinations, overdose prevention education, access to harm reduction supplies and transition counseling, with a focus on those who are homeless, living with mental health issues and active substance users people.
The Health Equity Alliance hopes to begin welcoming people into the center within 90 days of receiving funding from the city, especially if the weather continues to get colder, according to the group’s application.
Councilmen Jonathan Sprague and Rick Fournier voted against the award Wednesday because they were unsure whether the center would be sustainable or effective after its first year. Sprague said he was uncomfortable with the center being a quasi-medical center because of the high cost of keeping it open.
“We had a $1 million program, but there were issues with funding, a limited number of people that could be served, and a lack of coordination with other outreach workers in the community,” Sprague said. “It was a feel-good project, But I think it’s injecting thousands of dollars’ worth of natural gas into fires that we can’t adequately address. “I don’t believe it’s going to show sustainable results. ”
Councilors also unanimously decided Wednesday to spend $400,000 in COVID-19 relief funds to purchase two new city sidewalk snowplows.
City Manager Debbie Laurie said the new plows will add to the city’s fleet of five machines that are prone to malfunctioning if they hit sidewalk obstructions or debris. Even if some existing plows fail, the new plows are expected to allow public works to quickly clear city sidewalks after heavy snowfall.