Members of a new homeless advocacy organization held cardboard signs spray-painted with "Say No to Sexual Harassment" and "What Is Done in the Dark Will Be Brought To the Light" in front of the Beers Van Gogh Peer Center of Excellence at 669 Madison Avenue on Thursday afternoon. One woman canvassed the sidewalk, holding a sign and screaming, "You shouldn't have to have sex to sleep in a bed!"
The members of H.O.P.E. (Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality) were protesting alleged sexual harassment against female clients and female staff members at the Peer Center, a Tennessee Mental Health Consumers' Association organization that provides housing to homeless people with mental disabilities.
A H.O.P.E. member has alleged that one employee of the Peer Center has offered her $20 to show him her breasts, and she alleged the man also talked to her and others about the size of his penis. He also reportedly asked a woman if she wanted to be involved in a three-way with he and his girlfriend.
A few of H.O.P.E.'s members, including some who still reside at the Peer Center, have filed formal complaints of sexual harassment with the Tennessee Mental Health Consumers' Association. According to the press release issued by H.O.P.E., the employee in question was suspended during an investigation of a complaint but later returned to his duties with the stipulation that he receive sensitivity training. He is allegedly under orders not to speak to the victim accept in case of an emergency. H.O.P.E. is consulting with legal counsel to further pursue the matter.
A man who answered the phone at the Peer Center on Thursday afternoon said the center did not wish to make a statement.