The March 28 fire at the Royal Crown Rooming House was a tragedy in more ways than one.

The rooming house itself was completely destroyed. Two residents perished in the fire and at least 30 others were displaced. Several are still hospitalized with serious injuries. The rest are living with their families or in area motels.

Speaking this week on Townsquare Sunday, Rev. David Lima, Executive Minister of the Interchurch Council, said many occupants ran from the flames with nothing but the clothes on their back.

"It was such a fast-moving fire, some people left their phones behind," Lima said. "They carried what the could but most of them, if they weren't wearing it, they don't have it anymore."

Three days after the fire, the City of New Bedford designated Rise Up for Homes as the official fundraiser for those impacted by the fire. Rise Up for Homes was created by agencies in New Bedford that deal directly with homelessness.

The Interchurch Council of Greater New Bedford is overseeing the fundraising, and Rev. Lima said donations are now coming in.

While most of the donations are small, Lima said there have been some larger ones, too.

"The United Way walked into my office and gave us a check for $5,000," he said. "We had a woman who came in several days ago, wouldn't give us her name and didn't want any recognition. She donated $1,000 worth of Walmart gift cards."

However, more donations are still badly needed. Rev. Lima said the hotel bill alone, even with discounted rates, amounted to $25,000 as of last Thursday. He added that social service agencies are working every day to find permanent housing for those who were displaced. 

The easiest way to help is to donate online at the Rise Up for Homes website.

Townsquare Sunday is a public affairs program heard Sundays at 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. on WBSM.

The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to make the SouthCoast a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at

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