Firefighters responded to a fire at 196 Union St. in Bangor on the morning of Dec. 5, 2021, that claimed the lives of three men. Credit: Lia Russell / BDN

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On Dec. 5, a fire broke out in a condemned house on Union Street in Bangor. Three homeless men were dead, and two were hospitalized from this tragedy. Of those three people who died, at least two of them were reportedly from the encampment under I-395, where the City of Bangor forced homeless people to leave without offering housing alternatives.

The city started to clear out the encampment because snow and ice make it difficult for emergency personnel to access the area when people need help. “Forcing people who are homeless to move is uncomfortable, but ultimately it’s in the best interest of those living in the encampment,” City Council Chair Rick Fournier said. However, the decision that was meant for homeless people changed to tragedy because of the city’s apparent lack of preparation and urgency in creating safe places for them.

Instead of “potential housing and substance use treatment,” as described in a recent Bangor Daily News story, the city should offer a better and more solid plan. For example, they could provide more shelters or rent cheap housing where homeless people can live until they find a permanent home.

Although some programs and funds help homeless people in Bangor, I don’t think they try hard enough to solve the problem that is occurring now. Many of them don’t realize that homeless people have difficulty accessing help even though they want to. I hope this incident brings attention to the city to take the homeless issues in Bangor more seriously.

Nanami Takahashi

Bangor