When Donald Trump tweeted last weekend that Baltimore is “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” many prominent residents and natives of the Maryland city were incensed. Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young, a Democrat, said Trump’s comments were “completely unacceptable,” and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, called them “outrageous and inappropriate.”
But for some Baltimore residents, especially those who live in properties owned by Jared Kushner, the comments had a ring of truth. Kushner’s family business, the New York-based Kushner Companies, owns thousands of apartments in and around Baltimore. And according to the AP, they’re a mess:
[S]ome have been criticized for the same kind of disrepair and neglect that the president has accused local leaders of failing to address. Residents have complained about mold, bedbugs, leaks and, yes, mice — plenty of mice. And they say management appears in no hurry to fix the problems.
Dezmond James, who lives in the Kushner-owned Commons at White Marsh told the AP that Trump’s criticism of Baltimore is clearly more about picking a fight with Rep. Elijah Cummings than the problems themselves.
“His son-in-law owns all of this — then he can fix it. I’m pretty sure he has a lot of money,” says James, who is studying to be a medical assistant. “That’s kind of weird that you want to talk trash … If you want to make improvements, you can make improvements.”
The experiences of the people interviewed by the AP align with previous reporting on the awful conditions in Kushner’s properties. A 2017 investigation by the Times and ProPublica, titled “The Beleaguered Tenants of ‘Kushnerville’,” covered the issue in painstaking detail, from the “mold and mildew beneath the carpet” in one tenant’s apartment, to the raw sewage flowing out of another’s sink.
Kushner Companies, known in the area for its aggressive debt-collection tactics, generates $90 million in revenue annually in Baltimore, according to the Baltimore Sun. And the company has shown no interest in keeping the rats out, Shannon Darrow, a local fair-housing activist, tells the Washington Post. “Basically, [Kushner] has been creating a race to the bottom in terms of poorly maintained properties,” she said. “He’s been very, very deeply implicated.”