Casa Ruby, the only bilingual and multicultural LGBTQ community services center in Washington, D.C., has been forced to shut down its remaining operations. The nonprofit closed its shelter last September after the D.C. Department of Human Services announced it would not renew an annual $839,460 grant. The organization’s founder Ruby Corado resigned in October and has reportedly spent the months since in her native El Salvador.
Last week, Casa Ruby‘s remaining programs and transitional housing facilities were also shut down, according to employees.
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“We took in vulnerable individuals 24 hours a day when nobody wanted them,” Casa Ruby employee Kisha Allure told The Washington Post. “We had programs for people to literally build their lives back up. We had trans women who were D.C. natives, trans women of color, and we kept them in a safe space as the mission told us to do. The full respite care center for trans people of color – built by us, ran by us – is now gone in smoke.”
“Everything is closed,” said Tania Cordova, who coordinated the group’s LGBTQ immigrant services program and was evicted along with the tenants at one of Casa Ruby‘s facilities. “Nobody is going there to get services because there is nobody to provide the services. We don’t have an office, we don’t have office supplies, we don’t have an internet. How are we going to provide services?”
The non-profit operated multiple sites around D.C. But several landlords and vendors claim that Casa Ruby has failed to pay them. In a Landlord Tenant Court filing, the owner of Casa Ruby‘s headquarters claims the nonprofit owes over $1 million in unpaid rent, late fees, and other expenses. Union Temple Baptist Church which leased four townhouses to Casa Ruby says it is owed $67,867 in unpaid rent.
Despite reportedly continuing to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and donations, Casa Ruby‘s remaining staff say they have gone without pay for months, and their offices no longer had internet and air conditioning. As of this spring, the organization’s entire board of directors had resigned.
The Washington Post reports that in a July email Cristina Sacco, associate general counsel in the executive office of the mayor indicated that, “Corado is the only person with access and control over Casa Ruby‘s bank accounts and the only authority that could remit payments to employees.” Employees also claim that Corado retained full control of Casa Ruby‘s finances even after her resignation last fall.