Bangor, ME

Bangor, Maine proposes public restrooms for the homeless

Stephen L Dalton

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Tents along the waterfront in Bangor, ME, provide shelter for the homeless.Photo by Kristaps Ungurs - Unsplash

There are approximately 150 individuals without a home in Bangor, ME, that require access to clean water and toilets. That number is up substantially from pre-pandemic numbers of less than 50.

The homelessness issue in Bangor, ME

The Ramada Inn had been a convenient answer of where to put many homeless, but federal funding for that is scheduled to end in September 2021. Hopefully, we will find new funds or new homes for those staying there now.

Bangor hotel closed to the public to serve as an overflow homeless shelter

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Currently, the city is trying to find new shelters for the homeless, such as in shelters, affordable apartments, or arrange movement to those places. Hopefully, organizations outside of Maine will help open up a refuge for those looking for a place to stay.

The goal is to place up to four outdoor toilets in yet-to-be-determined locations to accommodate the community. Casella Waste will maintain the bathrooms and ensure they are clean, restocked, and sanitized. However, some local advocacy groups have offered to assist with supplies.

Not only is the city trying to find accommodations for those without a home, but they are also trying to make a long-term solution to prevent homelessness in the community. A good start could be temporary toilets, or “port-a-potties.”

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Bangor, ME porta-potties proposed for the homeless.Photo by Craig Whitehead from Unsplash

Public toilets to accommodate the homeless

In October 2020, like many other issues last year, the Bangor City Council had a unanimous decision to install public restrooms or portable toilets throughout the city of Bangor, ME, to have a place to use the bathroom, but it never came to a full vote.

The goal is to place up to four outdoor toilets in yet-to-be-determined locations to accommodate the community. Casella Waste will maintain the bathrooms and ensure they are clean, restocked, and sanitized. However, some local advocacy groups have offered to assist with supplies.

The toilets are not just for the use of homeless individuals; any public member can use the bathroom. Since the pandemic significantly curtailed the number of restaurants and coffee shops where a person could duck in, grab a hot coffee, a sandwich, and use the facilities.

People from all walks of life should have access to a bathroom without the worry and hassle some receive. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the inability to access public restrooms as many restaurants and coffee shops that are still open host outdoor dining and keep their facilities closed even to customers to reduce exposure.

What’s more, when people relieve themselves outside, they risk being arrested for exposing themselves beyond it being unsanitary.

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Balancing the budget in Bangor, MePhoto by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Where did this idea come from and how much will it cost?

The cost of the toilets for installation and maintenance will be about $70,000 per year or nearly $6,000 per month.

Members of the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine originally brought the toilet issue to the attention of city council members. The coalition group advocated for the toilets expressing the need for a private and sanitary place out of the weather to take care of these necessary human functions.

A cleaning contract will be provided by Casella Waste to restock toiletries, repair damaged items, pump, and refill the tank every week. This will always ensure the toilets are functioning properly and reduce damage to the toilets.

Many homeless have erected tents and other temporary structures alongside the riverfront. Police are issuing trespassing and orders to move to alternative living arrangements to relieve the waterfront problem, becoming an “eyesore.”

Bangor asks homeless to relocate

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Takeaways

Many Bangor city councilors and business owners think it is an appropriate response from a “public health standpoint.”

The city of Bangor doesn’t have a specific date to start the project but hopes to start as soon as possible. The toilets will help the community by having access to a private area to use the toilet.

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Stephen Dalton is a retired US Army First Sergeant with a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Top Writer in Virtual Reality, Sports, Short Story, Design, and Creativity. I especially like writing about design and home improvements.

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