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Bangor clearing out homeless encampment under I-395 overpass

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 5:49 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - As the weather gets colder, the city of Bangor is clearing out the homeless encampment under the I-395 overpass.

“The concerns were emergency vehicles. We’ve had a number of fires under that area so we were concerned that as more snow and ice built up that we would not be able to access that area for life saving emergency services,” said Courtney O’Donnell, Bangor assistant city manager.

Anyone living under the I-395 overpass in Bangor was notified they would need to relocate by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

“They just said Dec. 1. That’s all they’ll give you. They’re coming down Dec. 1. Make sure by 8 o’clock all your stuff’s out,” said Robert Cote, who relocated Wednesday.

O’Donnell says they’re aware of roughly 170 people living outside in Bangor. That does not include those in homeless shelters or the Hope House.

“We have been working to coordinate with other community partners to provide as many services as possible. People are being housed, albeit slowly, given the current state of the market,” said O’Donnell.

After the roughly 25-30 people that were living here alongside the Penobscot River relocated, the City of Bangor spent most of Wednesday clearing the debris they left behind.

”It’s been a good morning. We’ve had no issues down here at all. Everyone down here has been very cooperative with us and cooperative with the crews and have allowed the public works crew to do what they need to do to get the site cleaned up,” said Tracy Willette, Bangor Parks and Rec. director.

O’Donnell says they sent in case workers and navigators to help people with next steps.

She says they aren’t telling people where to go but they are suggesting places like the encampment behind the Hope House or getting a bus ticket to relocate with family.

Cote says that’s not always an option.

“You can’t get in them, you’re on a waiting list. If you went homeless right now who knows how far back on that list you can be. I know a few people have been able to get hotel vouchers and stuff but I don’t know how many of those they’re going to give out,” said Cote. “Not every body has family in other places they can go, so what do you do for them?”

O’Donnell says there’s no easy answer but they will continue working with community partners.

Cote says he’s not sure what’s next.

“It would have been nice for the people like us who were helping clean up and keep it nice down there to actually have a place to stay. I don’t know, one day at a time,” said Cote.

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