BANGOR- According to city officials, the number of homeless people has been growing for over the past 2 years.
Concerns regarding the population including encampments, drug use, and panhandling have led city councilors to consider taking action.
“There’s a lot of needs out there so we want to have a better understanding of what those needs are and how we can best serve the homeless population,” said Bangor City Councilor, Ben Sprague.
On Monday night, councilors started a discussion about what to do about the homeless population.
“One solution is always more housing and I think that housing is a topic we’ve been working on a lot lately,” Sprague said.
According to data collected by city officials, only 35% of the homeless population are from Penobscot County.
“Part of the issue is that Bangor is a service center,” Boyd Kronholm, the executive director at the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, explained. “People come here for other services such as medical, mental health, and substance abuse. Sometimes when they get here, they start to experience homelessness.”
Another issue surrounding homelessness councilors think they will need to address soon is asylum seekers.
“We have to find that balance between being welcoming, supporting, and compassionate, but also the logistics of it are complicated,” Sprague said. “Where do people live? I’m not sure where people would live in Bangor right now.”
For now the city is working to hire a homeless coordinator and encourage outreach services to collaborate.