BANGOR — Maine is known for its harsh winters.
For most people, winter simply comes with some inconveniences.
Winter for the homeless, however, can be dangerous and sometimes even deadly.
The Bangor Area Homeless Shelter is just one of the local organizations trying to keep people warm this winter.
“Some of those nights (are) below zero and the wind picks up,” said Boyd Kronholm, executive director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter.
“Last year we had a gentleman who was sleeping under a tarp on a bench just down the road from us who probably would have gotten plowed. It was the middle of a snowstorm, probably would have gotten plowed by a plow truck had somebody not found him, woke him up and directed him to us,” he said.
Another local shelter is the Hope House.
Its homeless population is temporarily staying at the Ramada Inn on Odlin Road while the shelter undergoes renovations.
Even with two local shelters, bed space can be very limited.
“Right now we’re pretty full. We have a couple available beds,” Kronholm said.
Fortunately, other resources remain around the area, such as warming centers.
“We have our warming center which fills up throughout the night but it cycles in and out. And I know that Brick Church is also running a warming center and they’re not quite full yet,” Kronholm said.
Warming centers do not provide a bed but do provide open spots for people to get out of the cold overnight.
Rindy Fogler, the assistant director of Bangor Public Health and Community Services, said the Brick Church warming center also provides showers, hot meals and clothing.
The Mansion Church has a warming center as well.
“It is essentially a place you can go to sit in a chair, get comfortable, have a cup of coffee, sleep if you can, but also interact with people around you,” Fogler said.
Fogler said staff from her department visit local warming centers frequently to try and assist whoever they can.
“To connect with people and try to connect them with housing resources and case management resources and other things like that,” Fogler said.
The Bangor Area Homeless Shelter also works to get their residents more stability.
Kronholm said the shelter creates plans for their residents to get jobs, housing vouchers and, ultimately, their own apartments.