Colman Domingo
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Casa Ruby Founder Resigns After Major Grant Loss, Blames 'The System'

Image of Ruby Corado

The founder and executive director of the LGBTQ+ youth shelter and organization Casa Ruby, Ruby Corado, resigned Friday morning in a video after the group announced the Washington, D.C. Department of Human Services would not be renewing an almost $850,000 grant.

“I realized that I cannot fight the system,” Corado tells The Advocate of her resignation. “The system is not meant to support people who are in need. The system is meant for it to grow and to maintain itself.”

Corado took to Facebook Live to break the news. “I have made the decision, an earlier decision, to step down from my role as executive director effective today," she said Friday. The loss of the grant put the organization in danger of shuttering.

Introducing the interim director, Alexis Blackmon, Corado said, “She is truly committed to the clients.”

In the video, Blackmon, who has a background working in housing and employment services in D.C. and has been serving as Casa Ruby's director of government affairs, said, “My goal and my mission here is to continue on with Casa Ruby's mission… people need homes, they need jobs, education, good health, good mental health so that they can live an upgoing, upbeat life and help to uplift and pull others in, so is my mission here to come in and remove the focus from off of Ruby Corado and put the focus back on the mission of Casa Ruby.”

The change in leadership, Corado said, was to keep the focus on working for LGBTQ+ youth, especially trans youth of color. Corado had said over the summer that she'd step down within two years.

Casa Ruby started in 2012 as a drop-in center organized by volunteers. It’s since expanded to offering beds for LGBTQ+ youth in need as well as health counseling and immigration assistance. The organization brought in about $260,000 in 2014, reported The Washington Post. Ruby Corado, the founder, took in about $32,000. In 2019, the organization brought in $3.5 million in revenue, with Corado making about $250,000. In previous years, the organization was the beneficiary of a grant from the Department of Human Services. That grant was not renewed this year.

DHS has not explained the reasoning for not renewing the grant but has alluded to accountability issues. Corado alleged the decision is tied to a complaint she filed over what she alleged was transphobic behavior by a DHS official.

She explained that due to the funding falling through they had to close part of their programming and let go of several workers. Corado set up a GoFundMe to keep the organization from closing. that has raised more than $117,000 so far.

With her departure, she said that it’s time for a new generation to step up and speak up and fight for change.

“The narrative is that as a trans leader we are supposed to die homeless or of suicide. I wanted to change that,” Corado says. “I made it to 52 years old. I was able to create 126 positions [at Casa Ruby] in our best moment.”

As the executive director of Casa Ruby, Corado says she’s been able to share the ideas and success of the organization with LGBTQ+ organizations across the country.

“I feel very proud of that because at the end of the day, as a woman of color, I know that I had the ability to give people some hope,” she added.

In a statement provided by Casa Ruby to The Advocate, Blackmon said Casa Ruby was working to maintain its programming for the time being.

“We’re planning a comeback, while keeping our clients in a safe space, to ensure the future and continue our mission as a leader in Black and brown trans-led organizations,” she said.

When Corado announced her resignation Friday, local nonprofit homeless services organization Covenant House Greater Washington announced it was opening a homeless facility for LGBTQ+ youth in the city, The Washington Blade reported. They were awarded a $648,000 grant by DHS.

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