Evictions and Drug Overdoses Feared As Pandemic Continues
Some Maine residents have challenges connected to the pandemic that have nothing to do with face masks or fevers.
For many of us, the pandemic has brought up new challenges, like how to work from home, and how to safely do the weekly shopping. But for many residents, the challenges go far deeper. They're not thinking about whether they can find a mask that won't steam up their eyeglasses or how to find the right cleaning products. They're looking at losing their homes, or maybe even their lives.
People who are collecting unemployment, because their jobs have been put on hold by the pandemic, will lose the extra $600 a month in federal dollars on Friday that they've had added on to their benefits. This will put a lot of people in the position of not being able to pay their rent, just two weeks before landlords are once again allowed to evict them. Maine Affordable Housing Coalition Director Greg Payne told WGME-TV that they're not sure how many eviction notices will be filed on August 3rd, but they fear there will be a spike. And you can't blame the landlords, who are small business people, many of whom are living as week-to-week as their tenants. The Southern Maine Landlord Association is sending out a survey to tenants to see if there's a way they can help them pay their rent.
Another challenge for some Maine residents is how to maintain their substance recovery, while living dormitory-style in a hotel with other substance abusers and dealers. Many of Bangor's homeless population has been housed at the Ramada on the Odlin Road, as part of a state mandate to find socially-distanced accommodations. Maine is already reporting a 23% increase in overdose deaths in the first quarter of 2020, as compared to the last quarter of 2019, and Attorney General Aaron Frey says he expects to see this trend continue, with the added pressures of the pandemic. A woman whose brother was living at the Ramada and died of an overdose told WVII-TV that he was living alone and doing well staying clean until he was offered free housing at the hotel. She says the close proximity to other active users was his undoing. City officials and law enforcement agencies are currently working to find some answers to this challenging situation.