BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Officials are taking steps to move Maine’s homeless indoors as colder weather approaches, but there may be fewer options this winter.

In Bangor, city employees began cleaning up an encampment of homeless residents. In the coming week, case workers will seek to connect homeless residents with indoor spaces.

Assistant City Manager Courtney O’Donnell told the Bangor Daily News that about 170 residents were living outdoors this fall.

The coming winter brings uncertainty for people living on the streets.

Shelters are continuing to operate at reduced capacity during the pandemic and federal funding that has paid to put some unhoused people in hotel rooms is set to expire at the end of the year.

State officials say they plan to continue using hotel rooms when needed. But officials are worried about finding housing for those on the streets.

Portland serves as the largest hub for services for the state’s homeless population. City officials say they are now serving 850 individuals in city-run shelters and hotels, the Portland Press Herald reported.

A big concern is the growing number of unsheltered homeless. The Preble Street Outreach Collaborative served more than 230 unsheltered people between July and September.

“We’re going in a worrisome direction,” said Joseph Everett, president and CEO of the Opportunity Alliance, a nonprofit in Portland. “There just doesn’t seem to be any end to the need.”

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