Bangor will evict those living in a majority of the city’s homeless encampments and try to connect members of the unhoused population to social services, including housing, by the end of the year.
The announcement came during a City Council meeting on Monday, and roughly a month after Bangor first announced plans to clean up encampments this fall.
The city will permanently close down “over 90 percent” of the 11 encampments throughout Bangor and connect their residents to social services in the next 60 days, according to Councilor Dan Tremble.
The effort is part of a recommendation from officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who met with city staff and local agencies last week to provide a framework for addressing encampments, City Manager Debbie Laurie said.
The effort will be coordinated with “all agencies that provide outreach workers, case managers, housing navigators” and shelters, which would be offered as an option to some people, Laurie said.
The effort will spare the largest encampment, and focus on closing encampments that have sprung up in areas such as Valley Avenue along the Kenduskeag Stream and near the waterfront in downtown Bangor, Tremble said.
The largest encampment, called “Tent City,” grew larger after the city evicted another encampment under the Interstate 395 overpass last year, according to Terry Dinkins, the Mansion Church pastor who often hands out food and supplies to homeless residents there. Tent City is home to about 75 to 100 residents, and is located on a hill behind the Hope House shelter near Cleveland Street.
The city has taken steps recently to address a homeless population that has grown 20 percent in two years, including by considering temporary “shelter villages” to house homeless residents. It is also participating in a statewide effort through which the Maine State Housing Authority has partnered with a national organization to set up nine regional hubs throughout the state to coordinate efforts to reduce homelessness in each region.
Laurie pointed out the city had connected 254 people with housing since last year, according to a city fact sheet.
In addition, 752 people had been given other options to seek shelter like general assistance funds, or had been reunited with family.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated which city representatives had met with officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.