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Trans group struggles with financial crisis

T.H.E. hit by IRS tax liens, possible suspension of city funds

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Earline Budd, T.H.E., Transgender Health Empowerment, gay news, Washington Blade
Earline Budd, transgender activist, Washington DC

Longtime activist Earline Budd is reportedly among THE staffers experiencing problems getting paid. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Transgender Health Empowerment, a non-profit group that has provided a wide range of services for D.C.’s transgender community for more than a decade, is struggling with a financial crisis that has prevented it from paying its employees on time and has triggered staff layoffs and resignations, according to multiple sources familiar with the organization.

Public records at the D.C. Recorder of Deeds office show that the IRS filed at least 10 liens against THE over the past three-and-a-half years. Most are due to THE’s failure to pay employee payroll taxes, the records show.

Sources familiar with the situation say the liens prompted the D.C. Department of Health to suspend some or all of its funding for THE for HIV/AIDS-related services. The funding suspension reportedly was triggered by a procurement rule that restricts city funding for vendors or contractors that are in violation of the law, including federal tax law, the sources said.

A former THE employee and current client said they each were told by THE staffers that a delay in city funding forced the group to cut back on its drop-in services at its headquarters at 1414 North Capitol Street, N.W., and to limit services to clients by appointment only.

“The whole month of March we didn’t get a paycheck,” said the former employee, who was laid off in April because of THE’s financial problems, the former employee told the Blade.

Among THE employees not getting paid or getting paid late are THE official and longtime transgender activist Earline Budd, THE Director of Programs Brian Watson, and transgender activist Jeri Hughes, sources familiar with the group said.

Top officials with THE and the Department of Health have not responded to repeated requests by the Blade for information about the cause of THE’s financial problems and the status of city funding for the group.

“At this particular time, there’s no comment,” Brian Devine, THE’s finance manager, told the Blade. Devine said THE Executive Director Anthony Hall also had no comment.

“We just had a board meeting and that was one of the issues we spoke of,” said Devine, adding that the board decided not to issue a statement about the situation at the present time.

DOH spokesperson Najma Roberts said she would make inquiries about the THE funding status when contacted by the Blade last week. As of press time this week she had not responded.

The Blade filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the DOH deputy general counsel, Phillip Husband, on April 3 seeking the information that the department has yet to release through Roberts, the press spokesperson. Husband said the department usually takes up to 15 business days to respond to a FOIA request.

“My biggest concern is THE’s clients,” said transgender activist Ruby Corado, director of Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center in Columbia Heights that caters to the Latino and transgender communities.

Corado said some of THE’s clients have been coming to Casa Ruby after being told that THE’s drop in center had curtailed its services.

Corado and other transgender activists called THE the D.C. area’s preeminent service provider and advocate for the transgender community.

They note that THE also operates the city’s only housing facility dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. The facility known as the Wanda Alston House has been nationally recognized as an innovative resource for LGBT youth that offers counseling, employment and vocational training, and other services.

Among THE programs funded by DOH is its highly acclaimed Comprehensive Risk Counseling Services or CRSC program, which offers risk reduction interventions for preventing HIV infection among transgender people, especially transgender women, whom experts say are at high risk for HIV. THE also offers HIV testing and counseling.

“THE is a transgender institution for D.C.,” Corado said. “There are a lot of people counting on its services, especially those living with HIV. It is an organization that cannot go away,” she said.

“So the question I have is what is the Department of Health doing about this,” Corado said. “Why aren’t they talking about what happens to those clients? Are those clients OK?”

Transgender activist Alexandra Beninda, who serves on the D.C. Human Rights Commission, was among those who praised THE for its work in the transgender community but said she was unaware that the group was having financial problems.

She said she hoped the community would rally in support of THE but expressed concern that news of the group’s problems had not gotten out to those who might be willing to help.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the D.C.-based National Center for Transgender Equality, said she, too, was unaware of the THE financial problems.

“They are the centerpiece for local transgender efforts,” Keisling said.

Records of the IRS liens against THE filed with the D.C. Recorder of Deeds show that between March 2010 and earlier this year the group owed the IRS a total of $260,075. The records don’t show how much of that amount was for unpaid taxes and how much, if any, was for interest and penalties.

The records show that THE has since made payments of $91,912 to pay off the back taxes and currently owes the IRS $168,163.

As a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, THE doesn’t pay taxes on its income from donors or from government grants and contracts. The records indicate that most of the money owed is for employee payroll taxes.

Due to THE’s refusal to comment on the matter it couldn’t immediately be determined what caused the underlying financial problems that prevented THE from paying its employee payroll taxes.

Ron Simmons, executive director of the D.C. AIDS service group Us Helping Us, which also receives city funding, said smaller community based groups like THE sometimes encounter cash flow problems when the city takes too long to reimburse the group for its services. He said DOH in the past has taken 90 days or longer to reimburse vendors and service providers.

“Among other things, they are the only LGBT homeless shelter for youth,” Simmons said. “We absolutely can’t let them go under,” he said of THE.

THE’s most recently filed IRS 990 finance report that is available for public viewing is for the fiscal year of Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010.

The report shows that THE’s income for the year was $960,834 and its expenses came to $1,093,816, with a deficit of $132,982.

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Delaware

Delmarva Pride to feature drag, dancing, and more this weekend

Easton and Cambridge to host events

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A scene from Delmarva Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Delmarva Peninsula will hold its annual Pride celebration this weekend, including drag shows, a festival, and much more. 

The Delmarva Pride Center will put on the annual Pride celebration starting on Friday, June 14, and it will go until Sunday to celebrate queer love and acceptance in Delmarva.  

The weekend kicks off on Friday with a free legal clinic in partnership with FreeState Justice at the Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton, Md. Free legal services including name and gender marker changes, criminal record expungements, and peace and protection orders are just some of the services being offered. For more information visit freestate-justice.org.

Then on Friday night, the third annual Pride Drag Show will be at the Avalon Theatre, 40 E Dover St., in Easton. Bring your cash as four drag queens and host Miranda Bryant put on the fundraising show, where 100% of ticket sales go to the Delmarva Pride Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performance begins at 7 p.m. For tickets visit avalonfoundation.org.

On Saturday there will be the Pride festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at  S. Harrison and E. Dover Street, in Easton. This free community festival will include vendors, live performances, and more. 

Saturday night the party gets going as Delmarva Pride will host its 2024 Pride Dance. There will be a DJ and drinks available for purchase. This event is for 18 and up and will include a cash bar for anyone 21 and up. No tickets are required. 

To round out your Pride weekend, on Sunday the Delmarva Pride Brunch will be held at ArtBar 2.0, 420b Race St. in Cambridge, Md. Tickets include food, access to the mimosa bar, and a drag performance. Tickets are available here

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Baltimore

People of Pride: Five Marylanders making a difference in the LGBTQ+ community

Baltimore Pride is this weekend

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Jabari Lyles poses for a portrait in East Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore on June 10, 2024. (Photo by Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | One hosts movie nights, karaoke and other events that provide a safe space for LGBTQ people. Another has become a sounding board for customers at his gay bar dealing with pressures of the outside world. And a third beats the pavement to promote political awareness about LGBTQ issues.

These are just some of the things five Baltimoreans the Baltimore Banner is profiling in honor of Baltimore Pride Month are doing in the fight for visibility, support and acceptance of their peers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Delaware

Delaware’s Sussex Pride launches free statewide HIV, STI testing

Special program honors National HIV Testing Day on June 27

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Each year on June 27, people across the United States are encouraged to get tested for HIV. This year for Delawareans, it’s easier than ever.

Sussex Pride has partnered with STDCheck to offer free HIV and syphilis testing everywhere in Delaware. There are more than 20 locations across the state, making it simple to find a testing center.  

David Mariner, executive director of Sussex Pride, told the Blade, “We are thrilled with this new partnership with STDcheck. The ultimate goal is to empower individuals with knowledge about their HIV status, provide necessary support, and facilitate early intervention to improve health outcomes in our state.”

Finding a testing center, getting tested, and getting results is simple. Start by finding a lab near you using this link (https://www.stdcheck.com/std-test-center.php). Then call STDcheck at 800-456-2323 and request a free Sussex Pride HIV and/or syphilis test. Make sure to mention Sussex Pride in the call to get the test for free. Then schedule a time and get tested. 

“If you are HIV positive, the sooner you know, the better,” Mariner added. “Early and sustained treatment can help you live a long and healthy life. It can also help protect others.”

This special program is in honor of National HIV Testing Day, created in 1995 to highlight the lifesaving impact of HIV testing. HIV has historically had a disproportionate effect on the LGBTQ community. According to the CDC, 70% of all new cases of HIV in 2021 were among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.

The CDC’s theme for this year’s HIV testing day is “Level up your self-love: check your status.” The theme emphasizes, “valuing yourself, showing yourself compassion and respect, and honoring your health needs with self-love,” and the best way to do that is to test.

For more information on Sussex Pride’s testing program visit sussexpride.org/posts/testing/ and for more information on HIV visit CDC.gov/hiv.

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