Wednesday marked International Transgender Day of Visibility, and Casa Ruby, a nationally recognized bilingual center in D.C. that helps transgender youth, is urgently hoping to find a new space to continue its services.
The desire for a fresh start, however, is complicated by a dispute with the center’s current landlord over electrical repairs and unpaid rent.
Nearly four years ago, Casa Ruby moved out of a row house and leased a spacious building in the 7500 block of Georgia Avenue NW.
It allowed Ruby Corado, the organization’s founder, to expand her life’s work of helping LGBTQ youth, many of whom were surviving on the streets. Too many, despite the staff’s best efforts, didn't make it.
Now, Corado is on her 30th year of efforts to rescue young people from the streets that she herself emerged from. But Casa Ruby's desire to move on from their current lease will not be cheap, as there are still about three years left on it.
Corado has hopes of uniting the center’s currently scattered resources -- a kitchen, gathering and other spaces -- back into one place, a loving home for those she calls her kids.
"I will run Casa Ruby from the parks, I will run Casa Ruby from the streets. But I don't want my kids to grow up in that, because that's where I went, and I took them from that, and I brought them to a place that now is their home," Corado said through tears. "And I gotta find a place where I can bring back home for them, because they cannot live on the streets anymore."
The building’s landlord, the Menkiti Group, sent a statement to News4.
“For nearly four years, we’ve had a productive and valuable relationship with Casa Ruby and we continue to be open to working with them. It’s important to clarify that Casa Ruby is currently inhabiting the property, and we have taken no action to evict them. We have no immediate plans to do so despite the fact that they have not been current on their rent since 2018 and are behind in payments totaling more than $450,000,” the statement reads.
Still, Corado and her board feel it's time to find a new location. A GoFund me has been set up to raise the money.