Baltimore, Maryland. The city of The Wire, Serial, and the Freddie Gray riots. Now Baltimore has a fun new addition to its resume — it’s the city where maintenance workers will refuse to fix your sink unless you give them sexual favors.
According to the Associated Press, 11 women have brought a lawsuit against the city’s housing authority. The lawsuit states that these women were denied basic and necessary repairs in public housing because they refused to have sex with the handymen. The lawsuit adds that the housing authority, once made aware of these concerns, actively thwarted an investigation and told employees who complained to not investigate further and to not put anything in writing. One woman was so desperate when her heat wasn’t working properly, she slept next to her oven.
Some of these allegations date back to 2008. Women have been forced to live with insect infestations and even dangerous mold conditions because they refused to exchange sexual favors for healthy living conditions. The handymen’s refusal to do their job meant many women were resigned to living in de facto slums.
In another fun twist, the Baltimore Sun reported that the house authority recently fired Anthony Coates, the president of the maintenance workers union soon after he filed an affidavit to the U.S. District Comedy, stating he had previously told the Housing Authority about the despicable behavior of some of the employees and nothing had been done. Lucky Crosby, Sr., another worker who also raised concerns and filed the affidavit with Anthony Coates, was fired last month. It looks suspiciously like firing the whistle blower.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she is confident that housing director Paul Graziano will take these allegations seriously. This confidence is, at best, poorly placed, and at worst morally bankrupt, especially considering the housing authority has spent more effort sweeping this under the rug than actually making sure these women live in acceptable circumstances.
The way the Baltimore Housing Authority and City Council has handled this horrendous breach of human rights is absolutely despicable. Let’s hope that when the talks between the plaintiffs and the Housing Authority begin in January, some justice will be served.
No word yet on an investigation concerning a City Council that fired the whistleblowers.