Letter to the editor: Ira Mandel

A Vision for Recovery – Building 50 Recovery Houses in the next five years

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 10:00am

These are hopeful times for people who’ve been struggling for years from addiction to drugs. Our new governor has assembled a team who are promoting needed changes to help those who have been ignored for too long.

It is time now to couple this new hope with a clear-eyed understanding and vision of addiction in our community and to start providing healthy sober housing for large numbers of people.

None of us do well without a safe and secure place to live. People in recovery need to change “everything” in their lives to rebuild and begin living healthy and productive lives.  Housing needs to be the first need to be met on this road to recovery. 

Yet, housing is a problem in general in our community as the Knox County Homeless Coalition would verify. People in recovery from drug addiction often have damaged their relationships and finances to the point that housing is even more out of reach compared to other people.

Now that the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition (MCRC) has begun to provide recovery housing, we are now getting AT LEAST 3 phone calls EVERY DAY from people (mostly men at this point but more and more women over time once our women’s house opens this summer) desperate for a room at one of our houses. That is well more than 1000 people per year and growing. 

MCRC can accommodate 12 more men in our house in Rockland once renovations are completed on the house and 8 or more women in Camden when that house opens this summer. This will be a good start, but we need the public's support to build and maintain momentum and to continually increase capacity.    

MCRC has found that the majority of men in recovery that we currently house in our Rockland house like to do construction and there is a serious shortage of contractors in our area.  As a result, we have come up with a plan to create sober housing intertwined while establishing a nonprofit construction company that would employ as many of our current and past house residents as are interested as trained carpenters.  

MCRC could have a large number of workers, building relatively these low-cost houses around Knox County, built on a single well-designed house plan to hold 12 people, all in recovery and all earning an income to pay for their rent.  This quickly could turn into a house building engine, opening houses every other month with ready residents who could easily afford to pay and who can work for “MCRC Construction” as employees.  In time, MCRC could become the largest employer in Knox County.

This may sound like a wild idea but we know there are thousands of people who need help and MCRC can create housing and jobs for people who need work and who ultimately could provide construction services to the public just as the York County recovery program caters weddings and other events in southern Maine.

Please help MCRC make this healthy vision for the future a reality.  

MCRC has several events coming up where you can learn more about MCRC's plan to open 50 recovery houses in the next 5 years to help to help 1000 people in recovery.  

Saturday, April 27, from 2 to 6 p.m., at 63 Washington Street in Camden (MCRC’s future women’s recovery residence) where an Open House (with silent auction) will be held
Saturday, May 11, from 8 to 11 a.m., at St. Bernard’s Church at 150 Broadway in Rockland where a pancake breakfast will be offered ($10 for people 12 years and older, children free).

Even it is just an idea, this should pique the curiosity of the public and should bring many more people from the general community, the business community and other organizations to think about joining with us in this vision (such as Habitat for Humanity and others).

Please join us in pursuing this vision and give MCRC the support it needs to begin pursing this dream.  

For more information, please contact us at info@midcoastrecovery.org.  

Thank you.


Ira Mandel, MD, MPH, is president of the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition in Rockland