All but one of the 20 people who were living in a homeless encampment on Valley Avenue in Bangor moved into permanent or temporary housing when it closed earlier this week, according to City Manager Debbie Laurie.
The closing and clean-up of the site is the result of more than 40 people representing 10-plus local and state agencies working together for more than three months under the guidance of a federal disaster relief team. The team from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development specializes in quickly finding housing for people who are homeless. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins called on the team to help Bangor rein in its growing homelessness crisis.
Since the HUD team began working with local outreach coordinators in December, it has focused on housing the 20 people from 15 households that were living in rudimentary shelters in the wooded area along Valley Avenue.
That work included earning people’s trust, acquiring documents like IDs and housing vouchers, and getting people medically evaluated, when necessary.
On Tuesday, 17 people from 13 households were living in the encampment, but by the end of the day, 10 people from nine households had been moved into permanent housing.
Six people from three households transitioned to temporary housing, but not a shelter, Laurie said. Outreach workers continue to meet with those six people daily to find permanent housing for them.
mitigating bangor homelessness
“Once the team is able to match the three households with their final housing solution, the group will then revisit what worked well and what needs to be adjusted,” Laurie said. “In general, all involved viewed this as a great success, including those who were housed. The team is committed to and anxious to identify what’s next.”
One person left the encampment on the day it closed and told their caseworker they found a new outdoor location to live temporarily, Laurie said.
Last week, one person moved into permanent housing and another returned to a former job that’s close to family who will provide housing.
Everyone who moved out of the encampment has been connected to their caseworkers and the outreach team has arranged for everyone to receive regular medical evaluations. Those in permanent housing were also given essential furniture, including a bed and bureau, for their new homes, Laurie said.
After the people left and the encampment closed, public works crews worked to clean up the debris or belongings that were left behind. People who had been living in the wooded area marked items they didn’t want with yellow duct tape to tell the city those things can be thrown away.
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 all proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Laurie said.