By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer

Casa Ruby, a non-profit safe space for LGBTQ D.C. residents seeking services, shelter and food, has big plans for the new year, hoping to expand their reach to the Southeast, officials said.

Ruby Corado, Executive Director for Casa Ruby, said she saw the growing need for her organization’s services East of the River.

Casa Ruby, a non profit safe space for LGBTQ District residences seeking help is hoping to expand to Southeast, D.C. (Courtesy Photo)

“I know the need,” Corado told the AFRO. “I have lived in this city for the past 30 years and navigated many spaces. Since I started doing community work more than 25 years ago I had ties to the people who come from Southeast. Since I opened Casa Ruby in 2012. I have seen how many of my clients who come from Southeast face the worst challenges”

“I want to remove the barriers that keep them from accessing services.”

While any large endeavor can be challenging, Corado is confident of her wide range of support.

“I am not alone in this,” Corado said. “I have 68 members of my staff and I have developed great partnerships among them the Empowerment Justice Center led by Bishop Abrahams, silent partners run by Lorraine Davis and others. Dozens of local leaders who know me, my passion and my work.”

Bishop Abrams confirmed that she and Empowerment Liberation Cathedral are on on board with the much need expansion.

“I am excited about the expansion of Casa Ruby,” said Bishop Abrams said. “They have done a great deal of work.”

“We have watched them help the homeless, provide HIV testing. I am personally proud of Casa Ruby and the work they do.”

Corado is focused on two particular issues that challenge the city’s LGBTQ population.

“Two issues that today persist mainly in Black and Brown communities,” Corado said. “There are 19 murders of Trans women of color in D.C.  most of them never got justice and continue to be cold cases.”

“The D.C. HIV epidemic continues to be worst in the country of a major city. It has become totally accepted that today a young Black or Brown gay or trans kid  become HIV positive with no local outcry. No major response from the bureaucrats and the HIV establishment.”

Currently Casa Ruby is located at 7530 Georgia Avenue, N.W., Washington DC 20012, and is the only biliingual and multicultural LGBTQ organization in D.C; but Abrams points to the need for more services for the LGBT population in Southeast as one of the reasons to work with Casa Ruby on the expansion.

“Our church has a non-profit arm to do Justice work in the community,” Abrams said. “We are partnering with Casa Ruby to focus on mental health.”

“There are many people LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Ally} people in the Southeast area. We want to be about to provide them with services.”

According to a 2018 Human Rights Campaign Survey (HRC) only about 11 percent of LGBTQ youth of color of LGBTQ youth believe their racial/ethnic group is regarded positively in the United States.

The survey went on to report that more than 70 percent report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week.

D.C. also faces challenges with homelessness and increased HIV infection rates.

According to the District of Columbia’s Homeless Youth census about “31% of all literally homeless unaccompanied youth counted self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or queer/questioning,” according to the report.

Youth in D.C. faced HIV infection rates that were twice the national average according to data from the District of Columbia Department of Health’s 2018  Annual Epidemiology & Surveillance report.  When broken down by Wards, rates in 7 and 8 are greatly impacted.

Ruby Casa opened in 2012, originally near Howard University. Now the drop-in center employs almost 50 people and provided more than 30,000 social and human services to over 6,000 a year, according to the website.

Corado said the center she planned to open would cost about $400,000, “for the level of services I want to deliver.”

Corado says she is pushing for the expansion sometime in early 2019.