The Ramada Inn on Odlin Road in Bangor. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

A Bangor hotel is once again being used to house homeless residents who are infected with COVID-19 or need to quarantine because of the virus.

Penobscot Community Health Care is leasing about 20 rooms at the Ramada Inn on Odlin Road so those staying at its Hope House shelter and test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to the virus have a place to stay, said Kate Carlisle, a spokesperson for the health care provider.

The Ramada served as an extension of the Hope House homeless shelter for much of the pandemic, as local shelters cut their capacity so those staying there could socially distance. But that arrangement came to an end in December when the federal funding that paid for the hotel stopped and PCHC completed renovations that added more privacy and beds at the Hope House. 

The shelter operator is again leasing space at the hotel due to a recent surge of cases fueled by the omicron variant of COVID-19, Carlisle said.

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This time, however, PCHC is using about 20 of the hotel’s approximately 100 rooms. Before it used nearly all of the hotel, with 60 rooms reserved for general shelter space and 40 reserved for those who needed to quarantine or isolate because of the virus.

The property served as more space to accommodate the growing homeless population in the Bangor area. 

Homelessness has been increasing in Bangor during the pandemic, and it was the primary issue that City Council candidates mentioned as a priority during their campaigns last fall.

At the start of December, the city closed one of the largest encampments where homeless people were living, which was located under the I-395 bridge along the Penobscot River waterfront. 

Days later three homeless men were killed in a fire that scorched a condemned Union Street property. A neighbor said he had seen eight people using the building as housing in the days after the I-395 encampment was closed. 

In the weeks since the deadly fire, Bangor-area organizations have stepped up to provide warm places for people to sleep and spend the day during frigid cold spells, and hot meals and food. 

It doesn’t appear the Ramada has returned to serving as a hotel for a general population. Its website isn’t accepting bookings. General manager Free Martin declined to comment on the hotel’s future or its lease arrangement with PCHC.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...