BELFAST — A single mother facing eviction in Maine turned to her city government for help — and was offered a tent and camping gear. And now the camping gear is in short supply, as well.

Belfast General Assistance Administrator Jodie Stout told the Bangor Daily News that the city can’t put people in temporary housing such as hotel rooms in nice weather.

So the city is handing out tents. And the need for temporary housing is so great that she had to start a wait list for people who need tents and other camping gear, she said.

“We have a ton of need right now,” she said.

As of January 2018, Maine had an estimated 2,516 people experiencing homelessness on any given day, according to point-of-time data provided by the Continuum of Care Program to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Smaller towns and cities don’t have shelters like Portland and Bangor do. And not everyone wants a shelter. Some would prefer to be outdoors, in the summer at least.

In Belfast, the challenge doesn’t end when a tent is issued.

Even if a homeless person gets a tent, there isn’t a municipal campground. So people must get permission to pitch a tent on private property, or use a private campground.

The woman who faced eviction said she was discouraged by the tent offer, but said it’s “blowing my mind” to discover the need was so great. She told the newspaper that she’s couch surfing for now.

 

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