When an individual faces a housing crisis, he or she may try sleeping on friends’ spare beds or couches, or camping in a place deemed safe enough. But when winter sets in, sleeping outdoors becomes dangerous, if not fatal. Emergency shelter is a necessity.
In 2014, 724 individuals sought temporary relief at Hope House’s emergency shelter and the kitchen served as many as 1,000 meals a week. After significant renovation and expansion, the Hope House now has a 40-hour-perweek medical clinic and 48 transitional housing units. These programs, along with Case Management and the Home to Stay re-housing program are available to the entire area’s homeless population. Hope House is a low-barrier shelter, available to any adult experiencing a housing crisis.
Hope for Affordable Housing
A former Hope House guest arrived with an income too high to qualify for housing voucher assistance, but with enormous financial burdens. When he no longer could make ends meet, he chose homelessness over shirking child support and court-mandated health insurance obligations, which together consumed nearly 70% of his income; in the previous five years, he had never failed to make these payments. Hope House’s Housing Navigator helped this man find assistance, a reduced rent, and a workable budget. He now lives in his own apartment.
Hope for a Healthier Future
During a bout of alcoholism and homelessness, a woman sought shelter. After a year at Hope House’s shelter and transitional housing, she found a job and became a professional. She started volunteering for Hope House and Alcoholics Anonymous, and later joined PCHC’s Board of Directors, where her presence underscores PCHC’s emphasis on Hope House’s work.
Hope House is funded by Maine State Housing Authority, City of Bangor General Assistance, Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fisher Foundation, The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, Doree Taylor Charitable Foundation, and many others.
As a Federally Qualified Health Center, PCHC receives less than 10% of its overall budget from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
A True Story from the Hope House
“David” forfeited his apartment and became homeless to support his daughter. David’s divorce decree had mandated he provide health insurance and child support for his daughter – an obligation David was proud to provide. Over the years, the cost of health insurance skyrocketed to $550.00 a month. When this cost was coupled with his $500 a month child support obligation, David was no longer able to afford rent on $11.00 hourly wages. Rather than shirk his child support and health insurance responsibilities, David elected to become homeless so he could continue supporting his daughter.
At the Hope House, David was connected with medical, mental health services, and a Housing Navigator when he became homeless. He developed an action and stability plan to map and track his path to success. He shopped for new health insurance and found significant savings outside his employer’s plan. He then petitioned the Court to adjust his child support to be commensurate with his wages. Utilizing deposit funds from a temporary rent assistance program called STEP, David was able to move into his own apartment under his own steam. David has now been living successfully in his apartment for over a year enjoying the company of his daughter on weekends.
There are hundreds of Hope House stories similar to David’s. Stories of strong character, moral strength, and commitment to family – stories that do not make the evening news. While everyone’s path to stability is different, the Hope House mission remains the same — To provide shelter, food, housing opportunities, and integrated health care as a stepping stone to self-sufficiency.
Committed to the Bangor Community Since 1973
The Hope House is founded with a few thousand dollars by Bangor area ministers and concerned citizens. Originally located on Illinois Ave in old Dow Air Force barracks, the shelter has 30 beds.
Hope House Inc. Board Members begin a nine year search around Bangor for a larger space to accommodate the increasing needs of the Bangor community.
The Board of Directors reaches an agreement with Bangor City Council to lease a building on Indiana Avenue for one dollar a year. The 9,000 square foot facility is renovated with help from Maine Housing Authority and local donations and now has 44 beds.
Unable to maintain funding as a small non-profit, the Hope House becomes the Acadia Recovery Center (ARC) as part of Acadia Hospital’s Substance Abuse Services treatment.
Penobscot Community Health Care acquires ARC and reclaims the Hope House name. The shelter sees a steady decline in homelessness for the first time since 1973. PCHC integrates “whole person” approach with extensive services for housing, medical and mental health needs.
Transitional Housing opens 24 additional private, rentable rooms to Hope House guests, helping even more homeless individuals overcome barriers to successful, permanent housing in the community.
A full-time onsite health center is opened, bridging the Transitional Housing and the Shelter all under one roof and connecting guests and the Bangor community to both medical and mental health services.