Blumenthal speaks out for Q House

A former Dixwell community center in the midst of bankruptcy hearings has just gained a powerful new advocate.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’74 announced Monday that he will intervene in bankruptcy proceedings for Dixwell Community House, commonly known as the Q House, to ensure that the organization’s remaining assets are managed properly. Blumenthal said the center’s contributions to the Dixwell community have been invaluable, and he said ensuring that the proceedings conclude in accordance with its ideals is a matter of both statutory and public interest.

“Community leaders … have been very vocal about Q House, and many citizens have expressed the same interest in salvaging its mission and preserving its service,” Blumenthal said. “The main interest is that [the disposal of its assets] follow public charitable interest.”

The center was founded in 1924 by community leaders as a social center for the Dixwell community, but it was forced to close three years ago after mounting financial troubles landed it in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Q House, which contains valuable documents and artifacts important to the Civil Rights Movement, is estimated to owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The center’s leaders formed a committee to deal with the mounting financial troubles and have met with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to discuss ways to reopen the center, but they have been unsuccessful in their efforts.

Ward 22 Alderman Drew King, who represents Dixwell, said he appreciates Blumenthal’s move.

“It’s a blessing,” King said. “He understands the history of the Q House, and I think he wants to be part of that history, knowing that since the Q House did open, we’ve had less teenagers getting involved in killing and drug selling.”

King said 781 Dixwell Ave. has served as a safe haven for local residents for decades, and he said the closing of the center has left a hole in the community. For New Haven youth, Q House offered counseling, employment services and above all, King said, a focal point for socialization.

Former New Haven Mayor John Daniels said mismanagement may have contributed to Q House’s bankruptcy, but he said equal responsibility rests on DeStefano’s shoulders.

“He could’ve done more, and he should be doing more,” said Daniels, who supports Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy — DeStefano’s competitor for the Democratic nomination in the 2006 Connecticut gubernatorial race.

But Yale Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand, a former member of Q House’s board of directors, said the organization’s leadership was wholly to blame for the bankruptcy. Neither the city nor DeStefano were at fault, said Morand, who said he resigned from the board because he felt it was not adequately addressing the center’s problems.

“The very small group of folks who successfully drove the Q House into the ground have relied upon pleas rather than plans,” Morand said.

Eleanor Boyd, Q House’s former executive director, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

King said community members are working to organize community churches and other local organizations to help reopen Q House.

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