The COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks in the foundation of our economy that, for too long, have left many Mainers behind. As we begin to rebuild, we have the opportunity to chart a new way forward and reimagine our state, and build a Maine where we invest in creating more resilient and caring communities where everyone has what they need and no one is left behind.
That’s why the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) is launching “Summer of Care,” a new campaign to promote a more fair and equitable vision for our communities.
This summer, MPA staff and leaders will be talking with Mainers across the state about the need for policies that support our communities through good times and bad – whether it’s making sure Mainers have safe, affordable housing; supporting family caregivers and care workers; or promoting a compassionate, public health-driven response to Maine’s overdose crisis.
Specifically MPA’s work this summer will focus on these main areas:
Investing in our Caregiving Economy: It doesn’t matter what your zip code is or the size of your bank account, families from all walks of life are facing difficult decisions when it comes to providing care for young children and for aging family members. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified and revealed the inequities of our national caregiving crisis that disproportionately impacts women and people of color who are often frontline workers. It’s long past time that we created a system of care that works for all families – whether you’re caring for a child or a grandparent, decisions about care should be made based on what you need, not what you can afford. And care workers need to have their work, without which our economy could not function, properly recognized and compensated.
Access to Affordable Housing for All Mainers: Mainers need access to safe, affordable housing. But for families from all walks of life there’s simply not enough affordable housing in our state. Maine has a shortage of over 20,000 affordable homes for low income families. This is leaving thousands of Mainers without a place to live, and tens of thousands more are making tough choices when it comes to paying their rent. We need lawmakers at the state and federal level to advance policies to protect Mainers from housing discrimination and evictions while also making a major investment in constructing thousands of new affordable homes for low-income families in the next decade.
Advocating for a Compassionate Response to Maine’s Overdose Crisis: Last year, over 500 Mainers died of an overdose — and this year is on track to be even worse. People, and whole communities, are hurting more than ever and we must take action to save lives. Unfortunately, too many of our leaders continue to approach drug use as an issue of crime and punishment rather than a matter of public health. Because of this, and the stigma against people who use drugs, too many Mainers struggle with substance use disorder all alone, without access to treatment. This summer, MPA will be leading conversations in our communities to help our leaders rethink how to address this crisis. It’s time to put compassion over criminalization. Locking people away doesn’t work. Our loved ones deserve the chance to heal and recover, and together we can fight for the policy reforms that our communities deserve.
This summer is a chance to reconnect with friends and loved ones, to recover from the devastation of a global pandemic, and to recommit ourselves to the idea that our communities can be for everyone. It’s up to us to organize together to push our leaders to take action. We hope our work this summer can plant the seeds to grow our post-pandemic grassroots movement for a better Maine.
Reach out to a local MPA organizer to learn how you can get involved in your area: