Last spring, Freddie Gray was apprehended near the Gilmor Homes public housing project in Sandtown Winchester, one of Baltimore’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. His death while in police custody focused a lot of attention on Sandtown, and the many challenges that residents there face, including the conditions at the Gilmor Homes.
Recently, several women who live there said they were assaulted by maintenance workers who demanded sex in return for doing repairs in their apartments. Yesterday, producer Jonna McKone and I went to the Gilmor Homes, and we met Perry Hopkins. He’s an organizer with Communities United, a group that advocates on behalf of the residents.
Mr. Hopkins took us to visit Tyesha Harrell showed us around the rest of her home. We saw huge holes in the wall of one of the children’s bedrooms, caused, she said, by rodents. We saw tiles falling off the walls. We saw evidence of mold and roach infestation as well as many other problems.
In May, Peter Engle of the Baltimore Housing Authority told Jonna McKone that the city’s public housing stock would cost more than $800 million to repair. More than $13 million was invested in the Gilmor Homes in the early 1990s.
We invited the director of the housing authority, Paul Graziano, to the show today to address the allegations of sexual abuse and the conditions in Baltimore’s public housing. He declined, and his office issued a statement which said, in part:
“[Mr.] Graziano is aware of the allegations of sexual abuse at Gilmor Homes and finds them extremely disturbing. [The Housing Authority] takes the safety and well-being of its residents very seriously. The agency continues to actively conduct an internal investigation of the alleged sexual abuse; however, details of this pending personnel investigation cannot be disclosed.”
Joining Tom Hall in the studio is Perry Hopkins, who has been organizing in Sandtown for several months. And Eva Rosen joins us as well. She's a postdoctoral fellow in Johns Hopkins University’s Poverty and Inequality Research Lab.