Learn About the Bangor Area Shelter

History of the Bangor Area Shelter

The Main Street building that is now home to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter was constructed in 1896 by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland and the Diocese of Maine and known as the St. Mary’s Business Block.

Designed by Wilfred Mansur, it contained 2 stores and 6 offices as well as residential space for parish organizations.

The Business Block was rented to local merchants as a source of income for the Catholic Church parish of St. Mary’s. A variety of businesses rented space in the building over the years including a pharmacy and Gosselin’s Bakery.

In the early 1980’s, the Hammond Street Congregational Church hosts talks regarding homelessness. In 1985, Greater Bangor Area Shelter signed a 99-year free lease with the Catholic Diocese.

The Bangor Area Homeless Shelter (BAHS) opened on Christmas Eve, 1986 as a 12-bed overnight facility. Developed primarily by several members of the Hammond Street Congregational Church and primarily managed by volunteers, the Shelter was intended to be a short-term “hand up” for homeless folks from Greater Bangor. A focus was families and single moms, with a goal of helping reduce demand on the City’s shelter.

As of our 37th anniversary in 2023, BAHS has grown into 38-bed shelter staffed by 25 full and part-time professionals. We are now open 24 hours every day and provide many services in addition to overnight safety. These include a soup kitchen, emergency food pantry, a safe place for guests of the Shelter and others at risk of homelessness to socialize and meet with caseworkers, information and referral services, therapeutic groups, and easy access to medical and mental health services. We have also developed permanent housing (Cedarview Efficiency Apartments) for six previously and chronically homeless adults. In 2018, we opened our Warming Center where we open our doors overnight in our day room for people to come in off the street to be safe, warm, and fed.  2021 Intake and Diversion Coordinator position created.


  • 1980’s Hammond Street Congregational Church hosts talks regarding homelessness.
  • 1985 Greater Bangor Area Shelter signed a 99-year free lease with the Catholic Diocese.
  • 12/24/86 Shelter opens & Director hired.
  • 1987 Maine Legislature passes Shelter Funding Bill
  • Inter-agency Task Force on Homelessness and Housing Opportunities formed.
  • 1994 Decision reached; shelter environment not appropriate for minor children.
  • Standard becomes 18 and older.
  • 1995 Day program
  • Hope House (ARC) & the Greater Bangor Area Shelter run joint day program funded by Housing Urban Development (HUD)
  • First Hike for the Homeless
  • 1/1996 Dennis Marble hired as Shelter Director
  • 1996 Program Manager position added.
  • 1997 Shelter becomes a United Way Member Agency
  • Begin lobbying in Augusta for sufficient funding and better public policy.
  • 1998 With support from community, independent Day Program begins (no HUD)
  • Continue lobbying with Maine Coalition for the Homeless
  • Greater Bangor Area Shelter changes its name to The Bangor Area Homeless Shelter
  • 1999 Shelter staff increases to 9.
  • 2000 Shelter staff increases to 10.5.
  • Governor’s Sub Cabinet on Homelessness
  • More agencies seek homeless funding.
  • More state funding but more shelters funded results in minimal net gain.
  • 2001 First of three plans to end homelessness written (State Collaborative)
  • 2002 Statewide homeless council formed.
  • 2003 Shelter budget hits $400,000
  • 2004 Shelter staff increases to 12.
  • Cedarview Efficiencies opens.
  • Penobscot Community Health Care brings medical services to shelter guests.
  • 2005 Mary-Ann Chalila, early board member and director of Bangor Health and Welfare dies suddenly.
  • 2006 Shelter full each night for 8 months.
  • 2008 Mission statement revised to emphasize community.
  • 2009 Shelter partners with Community Housing of Maine on new four-unit housing
  • 2010 15th Annual Hike for the Homeless over $50k raised.
  • Bangor Region Leadership Institute (BRLI) involved in annual hike planning.
  • 2012 Shelter staff increases to 15.
  • 2014 Founding board member, Mary Hale, dies.
  • 2015 20th Annual Hike for the Homeless draws record number of participants- 1,100 people!
  • 2015 Dennis Marble retires after 20 years of leadership at BAHS.
  • 2016 Boyd Kronholm appointed Executive Director
  • 2017 Board of Directors adopts a new vision statement for the Shelter.
  • 2018 Overnight Warming Center opens for its first season.
  • 2021 Intake and Diversion Coordinator position created.