A scandal is brewing in the nation’s capital surrounding a leader in the LGBTQ+ community. For more than a decade, Casa Ruby has provided temporary housing and social services to Washington, D.C.’s most vulnerable clients as its only LGBTQ+ bilingual, multicultural organization.
Now, however, The Washington Post reports that Casa Ruby’s programs have closed. Additionally, the organization’s founder — seemingly the only person with access to its bank accounts — has vanished, leaving employees of the organization seeking answers.
Several employees have gone unpaid paid for six weeks, and residents of the organization’s transitional homes have had to vacate, according to the Post. The last board member resigned in April as well.
A D.C. Department of Human Services grant that provided $839,460 in funding to Casa Ruby to run a low-barrier shelter was not renewed last fall due to the nonprofit’s financial difficulties. The nonprofit’s founder, Ruby Corado, then announced her resignation after the shelter, which housed at least 10 young people, closed.
Although Casa Ruby lost the DHS grant, the nonprofit has received hundreds of thousands in grants and donations, including transitional housing at multiple locations, employees told the paper. However, the transitional housing, immigrant assistance, and crime victim programs have all been suspended. Employees told the Post they no longer had internet access, office supplies, or air conditioning as of last Friday.
“It’s deserted,” Kisha Allure, who worked at the nonprofit for 10 years, most recently as its director of victim services, told the paper. “We took in vulnerable individuals 24 hours a day when nobody wanted them. 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.”
Founded in 2012 as a small drop-in center with unpaid volunteers, Casa Ruby had grown to be a nonprofit with dozens of employees, thousands of clients, and multiple locations in less than a decade, according to the organization's website.
Casa Ruby brought in nearly $4.2 million in revenue in 2020. Corado’s salary grew as well, tax filings show. In 2013, she earned $31,895. By 2020, her income had reached $260,000.
Since 2015, Casa Ruby has been awarded nearly two dozen grants by the D.C. DHS and funding from the mayor’s office. The organization received nearly $1.7 million in grants from DHS in 2021 for a transitional housing project and a low-barrier shelter.
The Post obtained court records and more than 8,000 emails from and to DHS officials that show landlords and vendors have time and time again claimed the group wouldn't pay its bills when they were due.
In January, Corado sold her home in Prince George’s County for $775,000, the paper reports. Employees at Casa Ruby told the Post they hadn’t heard from Corado since May.
However, there might be a hint as to where she could be.
A year ago, Corado announced she was planning to open a Casa Ruby branch in her native El Salvador, a country she fled as a teenager.
Some former employees told the Post that their paychecks were often late or missing altogether. Three employees said they had gone three pay periods without compensation and didn't know the next steps to take to get paid.
During her time at Casa Ruby, Allure said she earned $46,000 a year helping victims of hate crimes and sexual assault. She told the paper she had 300 clients before Friday. Allure had offered support groups, gardening therapy groups, and classes for victims of crimes to build resiliency and get back on their feet.
“My whole program is destroyed now,” Allure told the Post. According to Allure, the organization hadn’t paid her or her assistant since June 3.
On Friday, Allure posted a Facebook live in which she addressed Corado directly.
“You owe us money,” Allure said. “Wherever you are, you need to come to your entity ... and you need to come and speak to your staff. … We advocated for you. In 2022, where are you?”
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