M.G.’s refrigerator in her apartment in Gilmor Homes, a public housing complex in Baltimore, had been broken for years. She filed numerous work orders seeking to get it fixed or replaced, but nothing ever happened.
Until 2008, when an employee of the housing authority by the name of Michael Robertson told her that she had to have sex with him in order to get a new refrigerator.
“I was desperate,” she said in a sworn affidavit. “I am on disability and have limited means. I was consistently losing food and I was not able to afford new food. I felt that I had no choice.” She gave in and had sex with him twice. Afterward, she got two refurbished refrigerators over the course of two years.
On Friday, lawyers for M.G. and 18 other women who alleged that employees of Baltimore’s public housing agency demanded sex in return for critical housing repairs announced a settlement for all victims of sexual harassment in public housing.
Besides a financial award between $6 million and $7.5 million, the settlement required Baltimore to fire and ban all the abusers from Housing Authority property, move the plaintiffs into livable homes. The Housing Authority also created 50 new maintenance positions with new policies and procedures, and cut down their backlog of repairs from over 4,000 to 1,500.
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