This Sept. 8, 2022 file photo shows the homeless encampment called Tent City behind the Hope House in Bangor. Another homeless encampment, on Valley Avenue, will be closed by the city next week after it finds housing for everyone living there. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The encampment of homeless people on Valley Avenue in Bangor will be closed at the end of the day April 11, and the 20 people who have been living there will be in housing, according to City Manager Debbie Laurie.

The milestone is the result of more than three months of coordinated work from more than 10 local and state agencies that were working together under the guidance of a federal disaster relief team. That group has worked to rapidly rehouse unsheltered people in larger metropolitan areas, including Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego.

The team from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, called a “technical assistance team,” was called in by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to help Bangor address its growing homelessness crisis. The HUD team first met with city officials on Dec. 15.

With the HUD team’s assistance and direction, 40-plus people representing more than 10 state and local agencies have combined and coordinated their efforts with the single goal of getting people who are experiencing homelessness into housing, Laurie said.

“Streamlining and aligning our resources so we’re all marching in the same direction has been very helpful,” she said. “We’re all here for the same reason. The outreach workers are ready and energized to do this work and get individuals housed and it has been an honor to see it.”

The team first focused its efforts on the 20 people from 15 households living in tents and rudimentary shelters scattered through the wooded area along Valley Avenue in Bangor. The collection of shelters has varied in size over the past two years after the city cleared out an encampment under the I-395 bridge in late 2021. The Kenduskeag Stream Trail, one of Bangor’s recreational walking paths, snakes through the area.

Since mid-December, this team of local and state agencies has worked daily to build relationships and trust with each person in the Valley Avenue encampment and secure the documentation they need to gain housing, such as identifications and housing vouchers, case management and medical assessments.

With those needs met, the team is finding housing that meets each person’s individual needs and situations. Their focus has been to help people gain permanent housing, but some people may be entering shelters or transitional housing, such as a boarding house.

“There is no one path to get an unsheltered person into housing,” Laurie said. “Everybody’s struggles and journeys are different and that requires a significant amount of one-on-one time to develop rapport, identify barriers, determine supports and gain trust.”

One person had been moved into permanent housing and another returned to a former job that’s close to family who will provide housing, according to Laurie.

“The individual we housed yesterday received his voucher Thursday, looked at the unit on Friday then signed the lease and moved in yesterday,” she said. “It was a huge win.”

Once someone moves into housing, the team secures basic items the person needs, such as a bed, shower curtain, place setting and cleaning supplies.

Anyone interested in helping with an available apartment, gently used furniture, excluding beds, or an ability to provide financial support can email

As they move into housing, people who had been living in the wooded area are given yellow duct tape to mark the items they don’t want and the city can take away, Laurie said.

The focus of this first phase was directed at the people living in the encampment on Valley Avenue, but once everyone there has been housed and the area cleaned up, the group will turn its attention to others who need housing help. This could include other encampments, such as the one behind the Hope House, or people who are living in shelters or in their vehicles, or are couch surfing.

Some of the outreach workers who are assisting Bangor residents are from Community Health and Counseling Services, which has contracts in five Maine counties, Laurie said. This means what they’re learning from the HUD assistance team in Bangor can apply to how people who are homeless in other parts of Maine can be assisted. 

Outreach workers who have been working with people living on Valley Avenue have informed them of the closure and will continue to remind them throughout the week, Laurie said.

The area will be patrolled following the closure and anyone who returns will be reconnected with their case manager or outreach worker, Laurie said. The city hopes to later improve the area and make it a more integrated part of the Kenduskeag Stream Trail and recreational area.

“We’re a committed group of individuals and what we all want is to get people housed, and that’s the win for the entire community and everyone involved,” she said. “Change comes slowly, but every little bit helps.”

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...