BANGOR, Maine (WABI) – BangorHousing Authority Executive Director Mike Myatt says, “We’re not in the housing business, we’re in the people business.”
“We need to end generational poverty, and we owe that to the children that live in our housing, to give them better opportunities, maybe than their parents had when they started out,” says Myatt of the public housing authority’s goal.
Providing these opportunities has become a lot easier as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designated BangorHousing as part of their Moving to Work Demonstration Program.
“Moving to Work is a demonstration program HUD came up with 20 years ago or so giving more local control to housing authorities to spend HUD dollars as they best see fit,” explains Myatt. “HUD programs blanket America, and what’s best in Bangor may not be the best for Philadelphia or Nebraska. We work incredibly hard to provide families opportunities to get out of poverty. So, we can use our funding more flexibly to increase opportunities for families, allowing them the opportunity to get out poverty, finish their goals, and ultimately move out of housing.”
The program does not give the organization more funding. Rather, Moving to Work allows BangorHousing and other designators the freedom to allocate their federal funding to what best meets their needs.
For BangorHousing, Myatt says the program will allow them to go from serving 130 families to over 400.
“So, as we go to Move into Work, we’ll have the ability to use more of our resources in a different way,” says Myatt.
These resources and services include better pay for staff, building assets for residents through savings accounts, constructing new apartments, and providing increased support through their planned educational and opportunity center, with construction starting in November.
The initial need for services BangorHousing provides is clear, and now, they can help even more families get on track out of generational poverty
“The housing need in Bangor and across America is dire. Our waiting lists for seniors is five to seven years long. There’s just not enough for everybody,” Myatt comments. “We serve a lot of families. A lot of young families, a lot of work-able families. And, it’s our job to help them provide opportunities so they know a path that they can get toward meaningful employment and ultimately move themselves out.”
Not only does the designation benefit BangorHousing, but other local public housing authorities can share this designation to personalize their budgets.
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