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Baltimore group to open D.C. facility to offer services discontinued by Casa Ruby

Trans advocate Iya Dammons spearheading D.C. Safe Haven

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Ruby Corado (left) and Iya Dammons at a Baltimore Black Trans Lives Matter protest in Baltimore on June 5, 2020. (Blade file photo by Philip Van Slooten)

Transgender rights advocate Iya Dammons, the founder and executive director of Baltimore Safe Haven, an organization that provides emergency housing and other services for the LGBTQ community with a special outreach to the transgender community, says she plans to open a similar group in D.C. later this year to provide services that D.C.’s Casa Ruby provided before its shut down last week.

Dammons, who is originally from D.C. and has longstanding ties to D.C., said she was not prepared to comment on the issues surrounding the closing of Casa Ruby other than to say she knew Casa Ruby founder and CEO Ruby Corado and Corado’s years of work carrying out Casa Ruby’s mission.

Among other things, Casa Ruby operated as an LGBTQ community services center that provided transitional housing services for homeless LGBTQ youth and adults and support for LGBTQ immigrants. Corado, who resigned from her position as executive director last year but retained full control of the organization’s finances, was said to be in El Salvador and couldn’t be reached last week when Casa Ruby employees disclosed the organization was forced to close its operations due to a financial crisis.

“The work that she did was truly committed to the vision that we also have in our mission in Baltimore,” Dammons told the Washington Blade. “So, I wanted to be able to build the infrastructures out to continue that work,” she said. “We’re going to create a low barrier shelter for 18- to 25-year-olds. We’re going to start a drop-in center and a mobile outreach unit,” Dammons said.

She added that her plans also call for “providing services and new employment for those who lost their jobs with regard to what happened with Casa Ruby.”

Dammons said she has spoken with officials at the Wanda Alston Foundation and SMYAL, two other D.C. organizations that provide emergency housing services for LGBTQ youth in D.C., for the purpose of collaborating with them on the services that the new D.C. Safe Haven plans to provide.

Start-up funds for the opening of D.C. Safe Haven’s operations will be provided by the Okra Project, a national transgender advocacy organization, according to its executive director, Dominique Morgan.

Morgan told the Blade in a joint phone interview with Dammons on July 25 that she and her Okra Project team were impressed by Dammons’s plans for the D.C. Safe Haven. Morgan said the Okra Project, among other things, supports the work of transgender leaders like Dammons throughout the country.

“I just want to recognize that Iya is a product of D.C. and it’s extremely powerful when those from these communities are making and activating a solution like this,” Morgan said. “So, on top of all the work that she’s done, I think it is a beautiful moment for the hometown girl to come back to her community,” she told the Blade.

Dammons said she is aiming to have D.C. Safe Haven’s programs up and running by late fall or early winter of this year to ensure, among other things, that LGBTQ people facing homelessness will have a place to go in the cold weather.

Iya Dammons (Photo courtesy of Dammons)
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Baltimore

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott wins rematch against Sheila Dixon

Incumbent is on track for a second term

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Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott celebrates with his family after winning the Democratic primary for mayor on May 14, 2024. (Photo by Jessica Gallagher/Baltimore Banner)

BY EMILY SULLIVAN | Mayor Brandon Scott is on track for a second term, besting challenger Sheila Dixon in Baltimore’s Democratic mayoral primary.

Scott had a several thousand vote lead over Dixon as results came in Tuesday evening, with more than 70 percent of precincts reporting, plus results from early voting and a first round of mail-in ballots. The AP called the race for Scott around 11:30 p.m.

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

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Baltimore

City seeks to cancel $500K Pride Center of Maryland grant over reporting issues

Loss of funds would impact a variety of programs

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Cleo Manago, director of the Pride Center of Maryland, sits for a portrait outside of the Pride Center’s new location. (Photo by Ulysses Muñoz of the Baltimore Banner)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV AND ADAM WILLIS | A city agency managing tens of millions in pandemic relief money has recommended terminating a $500,000 grant to the state’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to providing resources to the LGBTQ community, Pride Center of Maryland.

The grant, which would affect programming to address violence within the LGBTQ community, helps the center provide resources to hundreds of people, according to its executive director, Cleo Manago.

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

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Baltimore

Power Plant Live! opens Club 4, its first LGBTQ bar

Ryan Butler, known by his drag persona Brooklyn Heights, helped launch venue

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Ryan Butler, also known as drag performer Brooklyn Heights, stands in the space at Power Plant Live! that will house Club 4. (Photo by Kaitlin Newman for the Baltimore Banner)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Ryan Butler wanted a place where all members of the LGBTQ community could enjoy drag, drinks and fellowship in a safe space. He found it by the Inner Harbor.

Butler jumped at the opportunity to help open Club 4, the first LGBTQ-themed bar to occupy the popular Power Plant Live! venue.

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

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