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House of Ruth

Ending Homelessness and Life-Long Abuse

Since 1976, provides homes and supportive recovery services to 1,000 women, children and families who are survivors of domestic violence in Washington, DC every year.

Why should I support your work?

Our vision is to enable the largest number of people we serve to achieve stable housing, trauma recovery, mental health, addiction recovery, employment and abuse-free relationships. Each client has their story, and House of Ruth strives to make the ending a happy one.

Why does your charity exist?

House of Ruth helps women, children and families in Washington, DC who are homeless and abused to achieve safety, stability and the greatest possible self-sufficiency.  We provide housing enriched with comprehensive supportive services to help homeless, abused women and families; counseling to victims of domestic violence; and developmental day care to children from homeless families.

The women generally have a life-long history of abuse, beginning in childhood and continuing in the form of domestic violence in their adult years.  They are very poor, and few have the education or training to earn a living wage.  Despite the many challenges they face, the women and children at House of Ruth possess courage, resiliency and a desire to improve their lives.

Your financial help enables House of Ruth to provide safe, nurturing housing and comprehensive supportive services to help women, children and families recover from abuse and overcome homelessness.

What specifically do you do?

Provide housing, case management services, food and support for women and children survivors of domestic violence and homelessness. We do this at through our 11 housing programs, 1 childcare center, and 1 domestic violence counseling center. 

How will this make a difference?

Individual gifts are the lifeblood of House of Ruth.  Gifts from thousands of individuals account for nearly half the annual revenues that allow House of Ruth to operate our housing and services.  (The rest comes from government grants and contracts that we compete for every year.) 

House of Ruth will use your gift to provide safe, nurturing housing with 24/7 staff support for the residents, free counseling to the community, and a developmental day care center for homeless children.

How is your work different from that of other, similar charities?

We partner with many charities, and respect them. Our work treats the entire family, through counseling, childcare, housing and supportive services: the women and children in our program are supported throughout their journey to stabilization. 

What have you accomplished?

Every year, more than 1,000 women and children find the housing and supportive services they need to overcome homelessness and recover from abuse at House of Ruth.  For 26 years, we have set and measures outcomes at each of our programs to make sure the women and children are achieving their goals for safety and stability.

Kara was physically and sexually abused as a child.  Her father also routinely assaulted her mother.  Kara did poorly in school and failed to graduate from high school. As she matured, Kara got involved with abusive men, but she didn’t know the hitting and shoving and belittling verbal attacks were abuse – she thought that’s how relationships worked because it was all she had ever seen at home.  She left her abuser after eight years when he began to hit her eldest child, a seven-year old boy.  She and her two boys arrived at House of Ruth with garbage bags full of their clothes and a few toys.

In 20 months at House of Ruth, Kara has worked with our staff to turn her life around.  She got her G.E.D. and then her certification as a nursing assistant, and is now employed full-time at a program for adults with mental disabilities.  Our staff has helped Kara believe that she has value and doesn’t deserve to be abused, and she has learned to distinguish healthy relationships from abusive ones.  Her therapist at House of Ruth has helped Kara develop healthy ways to cope with the lasting impact of the trauma from all the abuse she has suffered.  The staff has taught Kara many basic life skills that her own parents never taught her, like how to plan healthy meals, cook, clean and manage the family budget.   More important, they have taught her a whole array of positive parenting skills, and Kara is now providing healthy boundaries for her boys and encouraging their positive development without the violence and neglect she endured as a child.  The boys are flourishing, doing well in school and have learned how to be a friend and have a friend.

Kara’s little family is about to move out of House of Ruth into a place of their own.  They still struggle financially, they qualify for food stamps and a rent-subsidized apartment, but Kara has full benefits at her job and is on a career path that can lead to a living wage.  In Kara’s view, “House of Ruth saved my life.”

How can I be sure you’ll use my money wisely?

We’re very frugal, spending 85 cents of every dollar on our housing and services and only 15% on management, administration, public education and fundraising.  80 of our 86 staff members work directly with the women and children.  For detailed information about our organization, see our most recent audit and annual report on our website, www.houseofruth.org.

Even more important, we’ve got 41 years of experience listening and responding to the women and children who are homeless and abused.  Their needs drive our program design.  We have a specific approach – delivering trauma-informed, comprehensive services in nurturing surroundings.

We’re also honest, with you and with ourselves.  We don’t always succeed and we don’t pretend that we do.  In fact, we are never satisfied and are always trying to improve.  That’s where 26 years of measuring outcomes at all of our programs comes into play.  We look at the actual changes in behavior the women and children are exhibiting in order to measure their progress and pinpoint areas where we can improve.  We keep on top of the latest research in our field and are constantly training our staff in new techniques that have been shown through research to be effective.