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LGBTQ+ Youth Shelter Lost Its Funds — Questions Arise Around Budget

LGBTQ+ Youth Shelter Lost Its Funds — Questions Arise Around Budget

Inside Casa Ruby's shelter

Casa Ruby, founded in 2012, provides a variety of services to LGBTQ+ youth in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.'s LGBTQ+ youth nonprofit Casa Ruby will close its emergency shelter on October 1 after the city's Department of Human Services informed the organization last Friday that it would not renew a grant of almost $840,000.

The group has set up a GoFundMe to raise money to replace the grant. As of September 30, the group has raised more than $101,000 on its page -- still $700,000 less than the grant renewal would have provided.

Casa Ruby representatives have said that the nonprofit will probably need to lay off about half of its staff, according to The Washington Post.

"We have alerted our clients to let them know, but we're not going to stop them from coming even after the first [of October]," Alexis Blackmon, director of government affairs for Casa Ruby, told the paper. "The purpose of the GoFundMe is to continue to raise funds to try to ... offer some forms of services within the community. So depending on how well our fundraising and our grass-roots goals, we may be able to try to self-fund a low barrier [shelter]."

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 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.

D.C.'s Director of Human Services Laura Zeilinger said that while she supports Corado's work, there were problems with the services the grant money was supposed to go toward.

"DHS is committed to the safety and well-being of youth, including LGBTQ+ youth, who we know disproportionately experience homelessness," Zeilinger said in a statement, reported the Post. "We are not decreasing funding for LGBTQ+ youth services, which will continue to be offered through the Continuum of Care. Grant renewal decisions are based on ensuring accountability and continuity of quality services and the safety of our residents. We value the community organizations who deliver these services and honor the contributions of Casa Ruby."

Corado told WRC-TV that she hadn't received any report of problems. "You don't leave people without support, people with nothing when we're about to enter hypothermia season," she said.

The decision not to renew the grant comes six months after Casa Ruby filed a complaint against the DHS after the group said the agency did not address an official's anti-transgender discrimination, reported The Washington Blade.

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