Nov 23, 2015
Eleven women have brought a lawsuit against the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, landlord to 19,000 people in dozens of apartment complexes. The women charge the Housing Authority allowed sexual harassment to go on and did not repair problems in their units.
The women described horrible conditions in their apartments, including no heat in winter, broken window panes, plumbing that didn’t work, mold, mice and rat infestation.
Some maintenance men demanded sexual favors for repairing the units. Despite complaints, the workers were not disciplined and despite work orders to fix the problems, some apartments have remained in terrible shape. Neither problem was new; neither problem was unknown to those running the Housing Authority. But it was difficult for these women to come forward. The first seven who did so were from the Gilmor Homes, scene of some of the angry spring uprising in Baltimore.
Only after the lawsuit was filed did the problems receive media coverage. Only now are some politicians, particularly three who have put their hats in the ring for mayor in next year’s election, saying that the housing commissioner ought to resign.
The Housing Authority may not have disciplined workers for sexual harassment, but it did fire a worker for calling attention to how long these problems had gone on! He was re-instated only after this became a scandal.
It took a lot of courage for these women, whose place in a rent-subsidized housing unit is not assured, to step forward and protest.