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Recovery centers call for community plan to address overdose crisis

Recovery centers in Penobscot County are calling for a broader community plan to improve access to mental health services, substance use disorder treatment and affordable housing.

Penobscot County Health Care treated about 1,200 people for opioid and substance use disorder last year and expects it will treat another 1,200 before the year ends.

Advocates say many local shelters are unsuitable for those in recovery. Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center in Bangor, said he'd like to see local government help organizations like his purchase and fix up older homes in the city, with the goal of turning them into housing for those recovering from substance use disorder.

"How about we have some member-empowered — that is people in recovery-empowered residential units — that are in addition to new housing, but that can really help spruce up the city," he said Tuesday during a virtual panel discussion organized by Penobscot County Cares, a coalition of local recovery centers and other organizations.

Penobscot County recently awarded nine recovery and housing organizations with grants up to $25,000 from American Rescue Plan funding, but it hasn't yet announced how it will spend remaining funds. Local housing and recovery organizations are advocating for the county to dedicate more resources to housing and addiction challenges.

The city of Bangor is still determining how it will spend about $20 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan.

Recovery centers across Maine are holding events on Wednesday to commemorate National Overdose Awareness Day.