Burst pipe forces House of Compassion to shut down

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House of Compassion in Cumberland_117145

CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — A long-term shelter for homeless people with disabilities had to abruptly close its doors this week – and its residents now have to find somewhere else to live.

The House of Compassion has been putting a roof over people’s heads for two decades, but its doors are now graced with red signs reading “CONDEMNED.”

On Wednesday a pipe burst and flooded the building’s electricity system, sending residents scrambling to gather their belongings. Executive Director Colleen Scanlon said the town’s fire department gave them just 15 minutes to evacuate the building.

“We now have to have an electrician come out, check it and make sure there’s not water in the wires,” she said.

About 10 people live at the shelter, and they were welcomed to sleep in the halls of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Cumberland for two nights before heading off to a motel.

State Rep. Jim McLaughlin, one of the people who played a role in finding the temporary housing, says funding would be necessary to get the shelter up and running again.

“Given the conditions it needs a lot of work, but I think a financial effort has to be put into it,” he said.

Scanlon believes fixing the shelter is an attainable task, but agreed that financial backing will be the biggest hurdle to cross.

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