Editorial: Rethinking public housing

Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2011 in Opinion

Editorial: Rethinking public housing

Bruce Poliquin is what he calls an 'activist treasurer'.  In his civilian life, he is a developer.  Dale McCormick is a dedicated public servant with many years' experience working in public housing.  In her previous life, she was state treasurer. 

So it's an interesting pair of folks to be butting heads about the cost of public housing in Maine.  Both have a point, and neither is seeing the whole picture.

Poliquin's background has been in the private sector.  His developments are based in purely capitalistic principles ... what the market will bear.  It is true that his projects (and the majority of private housing projects in Maine) would be cheaper than what the state pays for public housing units.  But Poliquin isn't taking into consideration the regulations that exist when the state is putting people into housing units.  There is a legal risk that doesn't exist in the caveat emptor world of ordinary real estate transactions. 

This, McCormick understands perfectly well. As former state treasurer, and state senator, she has spent many years looking after the legal health of the state of Maine.  As Maine Housing Director since 2005, she understands the intricacies of building projects for public use. 

What she doesn't have is the private sector knowledge that Poliquin has.  He can learn from McCormick what the requirements are for public housing; she can learn from him how to get it done faster, cheaper, and more effectively.

What is not helping either side is for a sniping war to continue at the expense of the thousands of Mainers who languish in motel rooms and homeless shelters waiting for new public housing to come online. 

The New Maine Times would ask that these two public servants stop their public and private feuding, and spend some quality time, over lunch or dinner, to find what should be considerable common ground, and do the right thing for the poor and dispossessed in Maine ... a group that is growing by leaps and bounds daily.

There should be a way to provide innovative, quality housing for those in need without breaking the bank or putting the state at legal risk.  It's time to look beyond ideology and make this work.

blog comments powered by Disqus