Breaking Free by Faith Outreach Ministries’ House of Ruth is a faith-based sober living facility founded in 2004 for formerly incarcerated and homeless women with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Founded in honor of Doctor Willie ‘Ruth’ Merthie—a longtime advocate of helping those with substance abuse—House of Ruth provides transitional housing and support services to women coming off the streets or out of jail for substance abuse-related issues. House of Ruth helps women learn strategies and coping skills in order to become self-sufficient and substance-free.
Accommodations and Amenities
House of Ruth is a one-story, ranch-style adobe home in a safe and quiet residential St. Petersburg neighborhood. With accommodations for 12 women sleeping three to a room, this single-family home has both a designated meditation room and a screened-in patio. The dining room seats all house members for community meals and is also used for house meetings. The house has a dishwasher, washer and dryer, a living room fireplace, central heating and air conditioning. The property is landscaped and the backyard is surrounded by a privacy fence. There is also an attached garage and a wide driveway for registered and insured vehicles.
Staff is on-call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The length of stay is generally six to 12-months and can last up to two years when necessary. The kitchen is fully equipped with modern appliances and has adequate storage for groceries and cooking supplies. Women are responsible for preparing their own meals.
Rules and Regulations
At House of Ruth, women learn to embody and emulate the positive values of respect, confidence, accountability, character, integrity, commitment, honesty and teamwork. Residents are counseled and offered assistance on how to improve employment opportunities to successfully transition back to society. Based on an honor system, the women vow to abstain from all drug and alcohol use. Anyone caught breaking the rule may be evicted or referred to a more intensive program.
For the first two months, residents are not allowed away from the house without an escort except for employment, volunteering or another recovery-related activity. Curfew is 10 pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends. After two months, residents can have unsupervised off-site visits, though urine screenings are mandatory upon returning. House of Ruth can accommodate women with co-occurring disorders and daily medication management services are available as needed.
Using a faith-based approach, women at House of Ruth learn life skills including budgeting, anger management and relationship skills. House members are encouraged to share their successes and tips to accomplish these social tasks with their fellow house-mates. Throughout their stay, clients can receive group and individual spiritual counseling.
In addition to in-house support, residents have access to social services information and outside referrals when necessary to help them transition back to the community. There is outreach support for clothing and public assistance coaching for services such as food stamps and Medicaid. Through Worknet and ACCESS (Automated Community Connection to Self-Sufficiency) residents can receive employment coaching, job referrals and assistance with resumes and applications.
Through the combined offerings of housing, employment help, educational services and spiritual guidance, many women who have stayed at House of Ruth have been able to get back on their feet. For ex-offenders, homeless or any other woman struggling with substance abuse, a desire to live sober is the only prerequisite to finding help at House of Ruth—all at an affordable price.
Breaking Free by Faith Outreach – House of Ruth
1701 18th Avenue South
Saint Petersburg, FL 33712
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