Digital Exclusive: New homeless shelter opens in Wilkes-Barre for men battling substance abuse

Digital Exclusive

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A new homeless shelter recently opened its doors to those in need in Wilkes-Barre. Duncan’s Refuge, located on 121 Water Street, is geared towards helping men facing substance abuse disorders.

“So we have that focus on maintaining their sobriety as well, so it’s not just a shelter, but we’re also learning life skills, we’re building recover capital, we’re getting this individuals ready to go back into the world,” Vicky Elder-Garufy, the shelter director, said.

All 12 beds at the shelter are occupied, which shows the need for its existence. The shelter is a program part of the New Roots Recovery Center.

It is named after Elder-Garufy’s grandfather, Don Duncan, who struggled with alcoholism and homelessness until he got help from a program similar to Duncan’s Refuge. Elder Garufy says homelessness has been on the rise during this pandemic.

“They lost their jobs, they are unable to pay for their rent and that puts them in the position of homelessness.” Elder-Garufy said.

She says there has also been an increase in mental health issues, particularly substance abuse.

“What we’re finding, if they don’t have the ability to get out there and get their medication, they do resort to looking on the streets unfortunately and self medicating.” Elder-Garufy said.

Cold temperatures and winter storms like our area witnessed over the past weeks also create addtional barriers for the homeless.

“So if you can only imagine being outside in the summer time versus being outside in the middle of a snow storm with no protection over you, it’s just..it’s crucial that we have shelters and a warm place for them to go,” Elder-Garufy said.

Duncan’s Shelter is open 24/7.

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