The Oct. 1 closure of the House of Ruth after 14 years of struggling to provide shelter and addictions help to women will affect lives and the community.
While the addictions programs offered at House of Ruth have been done voluntarily through the New Life Mission, which oversees the building, they haven’t been funded for it by any outside agency.
They received $40 a day for shelter allowance from the province, but that’s it.
It hasn’t always been that way. Interior Health used to fund beds at Kiwanis House, which provided a residential addictions treatment program after detox. Even that was badly underfunded and eventually, Kiwanis couldn’t keep its publicly funded doors open and it was sold to private interests to become the Sage Health Centre.
After that, the mission had a contract to provide shelter for people with addictions. Over the years, that funding shifted to different programs with other groups.
And so now the mission and House of Ruth are left to continue their addictions programs on their own.
Even with funding, the mission as an agency has had a tough time keeping its services going. At one time, its Thrift City store building was up for sale. There have been many public appeals for donations over the years.
The mission has managed to keep going, but House of Ruth has not. With monthly bills exceeding income by $10,000 to $15,000, it doesn’t take long for the debt to become insurmountable.
While the number of women using House of Ruth has dwindled to the current three, the fact that it’s being closed altogether means those who need help in the future have nowhere to go.
Residential treatment programs for addictions have been replaced with shelter and outreach programs. That works for some people, but not for others. There is no cookie cutter solution to treating addiction and all possible avenues need to be kept open.
The mission is promising to provide something for women through its main building on West Victoria Street. It isn’t set up to house men and women, and it is dominated by the men who go there for meals as well as services.
Women in need in Kamloops can turn to the Y Women’s shelter for crisis housing, or to Emerald Centre for slightly longer-term help. But the combination of housing and addictions programs that House of Ruth offered is now lost.
Unfortunately, it’s women who have the most need who are losing the most.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.