BANGOR – Those who live on the streets of Bangor will soon have a place to warm up in the middle of the night thanks to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, which is opening its lobby as a warming center.
All 43 beds at the homeless shelter are full and so are the five life-safety mats they pull out when it’s busy.
“We are at capacity and we have been all weekend,” said Archie Curry, the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter program manager.
The cold weather and the snow storm that is predicted to hit Monday evening has driven many, but not all, of those who live on the streets in Bangor into the Main Street shelter.
“The director has been working pretty diligently on opening a warming center for 8 o’clock at night to 6:30 in the morning, and that will be located in our day area,” Curry said. “That is for folks who either can’t stay in a shelter for whatever reason overnight or that make that choice to stay outside.
“So this will be a place for them to come in and at least sit and stay warm and get some coffee, some snacks,” he added. “That is going to open on the 16th of December and stay open until the end of February.”
The warming center should help the Bangor Police Department and local hospitals.
“That is where a lot of them end up – in the lobby of the police department or they go to the emergency rooms at the hospitals and that ties up their resources and staff,” Curry said. “We’re hoping that [the warming center] helps.”
The homeless shelter does a lot more than just provide a temporary roof over someone’s head.
“We’re here as an emergency shelter but also to successfully house people in the community,” Curry said.
“When they come in we hook them up with one of our shelter aides who then kind of hooks them up with case management in the community, substance abuse counseling if they need it, mental health counseling, if they need it, those type of things,” he said. “We try to get them employment. Anything they need to be successfully housed.”
And, “when we say successfully housed, it’s not just into an apartment, but into an apartment where they are going to succeed in the community,” Curry said.
They also offer a food pantry twice a week and it’s all paid for through generous donations from the community and some grant funds. Those who want to help out or find out more can go to the shelter’s website at bangorareashelter.org.