What’s Going To Happen To Ruth?

A Disabled, Elderly Woman is Sleeping on The Streets of Santa Barbara Tonight

A 73-year-old disabled homeless woman who is an alcoholic and has difficulty breathing slept outdoors in Santa Barbara last night. She was unsheltered, sleeping probably in a park, for five nights last week too. Her situation, which everyone agrees is dire, has drawn on the skill of a broad spectrum of service providers and public employees in recent years, and even more so this week: physicians, social workers, shelter administrators, nurses, outreach workers. Some of them have, for better or worse, officially thrown in the towel. Others will keep trying, against all odds, to help her indoors and off booze. Maybe they’ll get lucky.

I became aware of this woman, whose name is Ruth, after bumping into her on Milpas Street a week ago. I was walking with a friend towards the beach when we recognized her from Casa Esperanza. Let’s face it, there aren’t many homeless 73-year-old women around here, thank heavens, and fewer still who push themselves around in a wheelchair.

We greeted her and asked how she was because, frankly, she looked bad; dazed and exhausted, her eyes had a film over them and she spoke slowly. She told us she’d been kicked out of Casa Esperanza and then explained, presumably to take responsibility, that she was an alcoholic. To read more, see

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