Casa Ruby collapse: Mayor Muriel Bowser, donors and advocates react

Comment

DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Monday the city needs to figure out what’s wrong with Casa Ruby, the LGBTQ nonprofit that went out of business last week and left the unpaid workers. During months.

“I’m sad about this,” Bowser said at a morning press conference held to discuss the city’s monkeypox outbreak. “A lot of people here know [founder] Ruby [Corado] and knowing the organization and especially knowing the organization when it was doing work that no one else was doing. … But I also know that when we give … millions of dollars and the suppliers don’t get paid, the employees don’t get paid, we have a problem.

The mayor’s comments came a day after a Washington Post report raised questions about possible financial mismanagement at the nonprofit. The report was based on interviews with former employees, court records, tax returns and thousands of emails sent and received by DC Department of Human Services officials obtained through a public records request.

Casa Ruby shuts down rest of its operations and workers go unpaid

Casa Ruby has grossed over $4.1 million in grants and other income on his latest federal tax returns, which showed Corado earned $260,000. But employees say they left without pay, and at least four landlords told city agencies that the nonprofit hadn’t paid rent on properties it rented across the city for its low-barrier shelters and its transitional housing programs.

Casa Ruby “was an organization that did a good job, so we need to figure out what happened and fix it,” Bowser said.

Although Bowser told reporters “none of us can turn our backs” on Casa Ruby’s struggles, some activists said on social media and in interviews on Monday that they had been trying for years to attract support. attention to what they described as a long-standing problem at the nonprofit.

One of them, Preston Mitchum, a DC-based LGBTQ advocate and activist, said he was glad the issue had finally come to light, but it had taken so long.

“It’s something a lot of black people in DC have been saying for quite a long time, and it’s time people started listening to us first,” Mitchum said.

Corado did not respond to emails or social media messages on Monday.

DHS withdrew an $836,000 grant to Casa Ruby to operate a low-barrier shelter last fall, and Corado resigned as executive director shortly thereafter. Within the organization, staff have struggled to continue providing transitional housing and other services, according to former employees and emails from DHS. But outwardly it appeared to many that it was a working organization and people continued to give it money until last week.

Casa Ruby, shelter for LGBTQ youth, loses DC government funding

In a statement to the Post, a DHS spokesperson said the city has beds available to meet some of the demands left by the Casa Ruby closure.

“Grant renewal decisions are based on accountability and continuity of quality services and the safety of our residents,” the spokesperson said. “We value contributions from our partner organizations and do not publicly comment on individual grantee performance issues.”

DC Council member Brianna K. Nadeau, chair of the Social Services Committee, did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

At least two regular donors told the Post they had stopped making contributions to the nonprofit, and a Casa Ruby employee confirmed that others had done so as well. At least one person has asked for their donation to be returned.

Mitchum said he hopes the young people and employees who have been left without housing, services or jobs get “the healing and the money they deserve” now. But the city, he said, should have acted sooner.

“If people had really listened to black activists, advocates and organizers over the years,” Mitchum said, “we could have saved many, many young people who needed these important services.”

Michael Brice-Saddler and Ryan Bacic contributed to this report.

Comments are closed.