BANGOR, Maine — Some communities across Maine are seeing more and more people without housing. In Bangor, it's been an ongoing issue, and the city's police department has some ideas to help curb the number of people who are not seeking shelter.
There are at least 170 people in Bangor without housing, according to Jason McAmbley, the Bangor Police Department's public information officer.
"Something's going to have to change," McAmbley said.
There are various reasons people do not use the city's services, and McAmbley said there are some new ideas for handling this issue.
Bangor police see a handful of people with animals, which becomes the difference between sleeping in a tent or with a roof over their head, as many shelters don't allow pets.
This is the case for Shamus Goedecke, who has been in Bangor without a home for nearly two months because he has a service dog, Milo.
"We've had two different rooms offered to us, but they would not accept [us] because we have an animal, and even though he is a service dog, it doesn't really make a difference," Goedecke said. "I'm not just gonna give him up."
Shelters don't take pets, but McAmbley said there are places that could board the animals if they are properly vaccinated, which McAmbley said is a barrier.
In order to help, McAmbley said the police department was looking into partnering with some animal clinics so people have the opportunity to board their animals.
"If we can just set their mind at ease. 'You've got to go into the shelter for a little bit; the dog's gonna be cared for. When you get out, [the] dog's out,'" McAmbley said.
However, animals are far from the only reason people choose not to seek shelter.
Some of the biggest are drug addiction, as shelters are "no use" housing services, and male and female couples not wanting to separate during sleeping hours.
These barriers are not specific to Maine, and McAmbley said some shelters across the country are changing the way they handle drug use.
"In other areas of the country, they're experimenting with 'You can use. We're going to make sure you use safely,'" McAmbley said.
McAmbley said the core of the problem is not getting people to engage to get the assistance available.
"The rules are going to have to change if they're going to engage. They really are," he said.
Assistance has been offered to 100% of the people living in Bangor without a home, but only three out of ten people actually accept the help, according to McAmbley.
"This is slowly building, and I'm not sure how much worse it's going to get before we finally come to a solution. I just hope we come to a solution soon," he said.