Marin's Spahr Center suspends programs 'indefinitely'

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Friday February 16, 2024
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Spahr Center Executive Director Joe Tuohy announced the agency's closure February 16. Photo: Courtesy Spahr Center
Spahr Center Executive Director Joe Tuohy announced the agency's closure February 16. Photo: Courtesy Spahr Center

A week after stating that rumors of closure were "misinformation," the Spahr Center's executive director announced its programs are "indefinitely suspended" as of February 16.

Joe Tuohy, leader of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS center in Marin County, made the announcement in conjunction with Amy Schroeder, the chair of the center's board of directors.

"It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the news that effective today, due to ongoing financial difficulties, The Spahr Center has indefinitely suspended all programs," they stated in an email sent out Friday. "Along with the Executive Director, the Board of Directors made the difficult decision to lay off most of the staff yesterday. They are a dedicated and passionate group who together embarked on an incredible journey to serve the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities in Marin County. They have our deepest gratitude for their commitment to Spahr's mission and clients."

Two exceptions will be the Ryan White HIV Services team, which "will remain in place for the next week to transition clients to the County of Marin for continued care and support," they stated, and the food pantry, which will be open Wednesday through Friday next week only.

Tuohy, who took over as executive director last spring, had told the B.A.R. February 9 that no layoffs were expected and that it was "misinformation" that the center would be closing. He did state February 8, "You will be receiving information about program changes and The Spahr Center soon," while warning that the center's finances were "not sustainable."

"As for the future of The Spahr Center, we have entered into conversations about a strategic partnership with a community partner. The hope is this partnership could ensure the viability of our programs and services moving forward. We will share more information when the time is appropriate," the February 16 statement continued. "While this news may come as a disappointment, please know that the decision was made with careful consideration, and our commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities remains steadfast."

In January, the center had just moved from Corte Madera to its new location at 1575 Francisco Boulevard East, in San Rafael.

As the B.A.R. previously reported, a news release stated that the move would increase the center's physical space by approximately 30%, allowing for designated program areas for its food pantry, community support gatherings, case management, harm reduction, and mental health services.

Located in the heart of San Rafael's Canal District, the new building positions the center to better serve the priority population of LGBTQ+ Latino/a youth and families, according to the release.

"This move is part of our strategic plan," Tuohy stated at the time.

"Our center is expanding and so we need more space and more staff. We are thrilled for this move and we look forward to sharing our new and improved space with our community."

The center's most recent IRS Form 990, from 2022, shows a deficit of $104,618. There were $2,578,835 in expenses and $2,474,217 in revenue.

The center only had $488,086 in assets, based on its tax filing. Of the revenue, 52.9% came from contributions and 46.8% came from program services. The rest — $148 — was from investment income.

People with questions can still contact the center via email.

"For any inquiries regarding The Spahr Center and its programs, please direct your questions to [email protected]. This inbox is monitored regularly," the joint statement concluded. "While this may mark the end of one chapter, we are filled with hope and optimism for the future of the LGBTQ+ community. Together we've achieved great things, and we have no doubt that your continued dedication and passion will lead to even greater successes in the years to come."

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