A campaign launched on Nov. 11 to raise $30,000 to enable Casa Ruby to open an emergency shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth in time for freezing winter temperatures has secured about half that amount as of this week, according to Executive Director Ruby Corado.
Corado said Casa Ruby, a transgender supportive LGBT community services center, hopes to open a 16-bed shelter as soon as this week in space previously used as conference rooms in its headquarters building at 2822 Georgia Ave., N.W.
“Going into winter, we have a housing crisis for LGBTQ youth,” Corado said in a statement launching the campaign two weeks ago. “We need the community’s help to provide housing and support before the cold sets in,” she said.
“Family rejection can leave a young person alone and on the street, at risk for violence and exposure,” Corado added. “But this does not have to be the case. Here at Casa Ruby, we are truly forming a community for youth with nowhere else to turn.”
Corado noted that the new facility would serve as an emergency extension to an existing transitional residential facility for homeless LGBTQ youth that Casa Ruby opened earlier this year. That facility operates in a townhouse in the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. She said Casa Ruby expects to expand that program to accommodate another six LGBTQ youth in the near future.
In addition to providing temporary housing, the program offers residents a variety of services such as counseling and referrals to job training programs.
The new, soon-to-open emergency shelter will be limited to days when temperatures fall below freezing and the city declares a hypothermia alert, Corado said. She said LGBTQ youth, like other homeless people, can go to one of several other shelters operated by community organizations and usually funded by the city.
But based on reports Casa Ruby has received from many of its clients, LGBTQ youth, especially transgender youth, often feel unsafe or unwelcome in the existing shelters, Corado said.
“So we’re just offering another option,” she said. “They can come to the Casa Ruby hypothermia shelter.”
The funds being sought are needed to fully furnish and staff the shelter space for a five-month period of December through April, according to Corado.
“We are calling on people across Washington, D.C., including the LGBTQ community and our allies, to help us provide LGBTQ youth with shelter and a home so that they do not have to face the cold of winter living on the street,” she said.
The Casa Ruby statement says those interested in making a donation for the shelter can do so through this link: http://bit.ly/emergencylgbtqyouthfund.