Signs are posted throughout a portion of Valley Avenue in Bangor, prohibiting public use of city land that once was the site of the city's second-largest homeless encampment, Sept. 29, 2023. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Six months after Bangor housed people living in a homeless encampment along Valley Avenue, thirty percent of them have returned to living outside. 

Earlier this year, workers from more than 10 local and state agencies found housing for 20 people who were living in an encampment in the wooded area along Valley Avenue. They were guided by a team from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that specializes in rapidly housing people. 

The closing and cleaning up of the encampment along Valley Avenue was touted as one of Bangor’s prominent achievements in quelling the region’s growing homeless population. But in the months since, new information calls into question whether the housing efforts will have long-term success. 

The months-long work required caseworkers to connect with people to earn their trust, obtain necessary documents and medical diagnoses they may need to get a housing voucher, and find a landlord who was willing to rent to someone who has a history of homelessness. 

Now, local outreach workers are attempting to repeat the feat at the city’s largest homeless encampment behind the Hope House Health and Living Center, but that’s proving to be more complicated and time-consuming. 

Six of the 20 people from the Valley Avenue encampment that were housed in some way in April have returned to living outside, Debbie Laurie, Bangor city manager, said on Monday. Of those, four were evicted from their housing but are still in touch with service providers. Some of those six people then transitioned to the large homeless encampment behind the Hope House Health and Living Center. 

Despite the fact that some people have returned to living outside, Laurie said that HUD leaders  continue to reassure the city that their work in the encampment was “the right thing to do.” 

“For once, we had a bunch of different agencies working together on one plan,” Laurie said. 

After six months, only 12 of the people are still housed. Of those, six people are still in permanent housing, one is in temporary housing, and five are living elsewhere, such as a shelter or have been reunited with their families or communities. 

Another two have been incarcerated within the last six months, Laurie said. 

The update from Laurie came three weeks after the Bangor Daily News published a story revealing not everyone from the Valley Avenue encampment was housed. 

When the encampment shuttered on April 11, the city said all but one of the 20 people from the encampment had been placed into permanent or temporary housing, but no one entered a shelter. 

Permanent housing generally means someone moved into an apartment with a lease, whereas temporary housing could mean hotels or a month-to-month rental arrangement.

In the city’s review that Laurie presented on Monday, however, she said 10 people entered permanent housing in April, six were placed in temporary housing and four people fell into an “other” category, which could mean they were reunited with family, they entered a shelter, or another option. 

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...