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Bangor Public Works clean up downtown homeless camp

(WABI)
Published: Jul. 25, 2018 at 4:43 PM EDT
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Bangor Police and Public Works are cleaning up tent city in Bangor.

The homeless camps along the Penobscot River have long served as temporary housing for those who feel as though they have no place to go.

"It's unfortunate, but things happen. Gotta move on. A bunch of us already found new campsites that are safe and still nearby to town, so we can still use resources."

Michael Smith is a homeless veteran who has been staying in what's known as Bangor's tent city for about a month. Until now.

"It's not a good thing that we had to move, but it's not a bad thing either honestly," said Smith.

After recent issues with violence in the camp, Bangor Police say they had no choice but to clear the area.

For many, this place was home, and the people they were with made it feel like it too, until fights broke out. We're told it's the newer and younger folks coming in to town causing problems.

"95% of the people here are very good people," explained homeless veteran, Michael Gordon. "Top of the line. But, you get 5% of the bad people, it makes all of us 95% look bad."

Bangor Police say they started warning folks a couple of weeks ago, that they would have to pack up and move elsewhere, but not without letting them know what resources are available.

"They are down there every day and not in an enforcement way, in a proactive way," explained Bruce Hews, Campus Manager of the Hope House & Living Center in Bangor. "They are down there telling people what's going to go on weeks before they break these camps up. They are giving these people the opportunity, the resources. They are letting them know what's out there."

Boyd Kronholm serves as the Executive Director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. He says their goal is to help those who are willing to help themselves - and that starts by finding some stability.

"They have to save money if they have any type of income. If they don't have income and are able to work, we have them looking for jobs. We do a risk assessment type of evaluation on them as far as how vulnerable they are to remain homeless, and then we try and attach them to any housing program that will best meet their needs," said Kronholm.

For crews clearing the area, they say this is something they have to deal with almost every year, but never to this capacity.

"I'm kind of torn myself," said Dan McAllister of Bangor Publc Works. "These people are in circumstances that are beyond their control, some of them. I feel bad for them, but we have to maintain sanitary conditions and it's not really cutting it right now."

For more information on the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and the services they provide visit: http://www.bangorareashelter.org/.

For more information on the Hope House & Living Center in Bangor visit: https://hopehouse.pchc.com/shelter/.