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Homeless encampment in Bangor cleared out, but where does this leave its prominent ‘Tent City’ population?

According to the Community Health and Counseling Services (CHCS), there are over 100 unhoused people located in Bangor, Maine. A study conducted by the Maine Housing State Authority found that there were 4,258 people experiencing homelessness across the state as of January 2023. It was also discovered that 53% of these homeless families have at least one child.

In July, Governor Janet Mills signed a bill that would allocate a sum of $100 million in the pursuit of solving the housing crisis in Maine after having been approved by the Legislature. This is a historic bill, as many claim that homelessness has not been properly addressed in this state since the 90s. The January 2022 PIT Count states that there are 582,462 homeless individuals across the United States, which translates to 18 per every 10,000 people.

Its commonality is dependent on the region, individual marginalization and other various subgroups that the unsheltered population may fall under. The U.S. faces homelessness the third most prominently, right behind India and Nigeria. Despite America as a whole being one of the wealthiest countries, its homeless population is not only substantial but at a constant, steady increase.

Behind the Hope House on Corporate Drive in Bangor is where “Tent City” was once located, and 20 people were previously staying at that homeless encampment along Valley Avenue. Since April of last year, all of the unhoused people have received either permanent housing or the promise of ongoing case management for those in temporary living situations.

Public works have also cleared the area in order to re-establish it as a recreational space for the town. the objective is to make what was once “Tent City” publicly available to everyone and safe for all members of the community

Penquis is a nonprofit organization centered around reducing poverty conditions and causes. They have worked alongside CHCS to create alternative living opportunities for those who had been camped out on Valley Road and other locations in the greater Bangor area.

An emergency management type of approach was executed to solve the situation at hand. It began with an attempt to identify each individual who is living outdoors, followed by a period of research to ensure appropriate housing accommodations for everyone in need. Lastly, a sweep of the area so that the general public can then utilize the space accordingly.

Though this process may sound cut and dry, a great amount of time and energy was devoted to the cause by nearly 50 individuals who helped compose a list of names to guarantee that every single person is granted a proper place to stay. They also worked tirelessly to ensure not only that each individual has valid documentation for placement but also that resources are available to aid them in terms of supplies, counseling and other necessities.

Outreach workers have spent the past few months providing those in financially vulnerable circumstances with housing options via a voucher distribution to ensure that no one was left behind once the area had been completely cleared.

A majority of the community has long awaited this enactment.

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