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Man allegedly breaks in and vandalizes Canton's transitional housing unit displacing 50+ residents

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Posted at 9:31 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 00:06:55-05

CANTON, Ohio — "Catastrophic" is how Canton Police described the damage to the YWCA's Gateway II House at 626 Walnut Ave. NE.

Megan Conkle, the YWCA director of housing, said around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday morning a man shattered the front door of the facility and barricaded himself in the laundry room. She said that while in the laundry room, the man tore down the sprinkler system.

"That caused the entire second floor to flood into the first floor and then that got into the electrical system which then made the entire building unsafe for residency," she said.

The Red Cross opened a temporary shelter Tuesday evening for Canton residents who had to leave their homes because of water damage at an apartment building. The Red Cross said it will provide blankets, cots and comfort kits to the residents. Meals will also be prepped for anyone staying there.

The shelter is located right across the street at the Canton YWCA, 231 6th Street NE.

Currently, there are 25 individuals staying at the shelter, according to the Red Cross.

“We are working with the YWCA and other community partners to provide a safe place to stay for people who had to leave their homes in the middle of the night,” said Kim Kroh, executive director of the Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes. “This is a short-term situation for these residents, while building management works with a restoration company to repair the damage done to their homes. We anticipate alternative housing will be arranged for the residents later this week.”

Gateway House II is the YWCA's transitional living center.

"It’s a permanent, supportive housing location which means that individuals who are homeless can stay there permanently and longterm," said Conkle.

Andrew Davis has lived at Gateway for almost a year. He said it's more than a home to him.

"I worked hard to get in here. It’s all I have. I don't have family or anything. I really lean on this place," said Davis, who is one of the 25 staying at the temporary shelter.

Conkle said the YWCA is thankful for the community support but is hopeful a hotel will allow the displaced residents to stay there while the damage is being assessed.

"What we really need now is to have somewhere to put our tenants long-term, so being able to put them in a hotel while we wait for the damage assessment," said Conkle.

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