Deeply concerned that homeless women's lives are being endangered because of Baltimore City's discriminatory policy of providing overflow shelter beds only to men, the Homeless Persons Representation Project and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland wrote to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asking for immediate intervention to remedy the unlawful practice.
In July 2011, the City significantly reduced the number of shelter beds, from 350 to 250, when the 24-hour emergency shelter for single adults was relocated from 210 Guilford Avenue to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Housing Resource Center on Fallsway (the Center). In response to concerns about this reduction in beds and the hardships it would create, City officials repeatedly stated that the transition from the old shelter to the new shelter would not take place until a plan for additional overflow beds was in place. But the City set up a plan for overflow beds for men only. When the 175 beds for men at the Center are full, any additional men seeking shelter are transported by bus to the 100-bed overflow shelter. When the 75 beds for women at the Center are full, additional women seeking shelter are simply turned away to sleep in the streets.
The City's policy unlawfully discriminates against women in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment to the Maryland Constitution.