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Scott launches nearly $15M program to clean up Baltimore neighborhoods

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CBS News Baltimore Live

BALTIMORE - Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has announced a $14.7 million program that would hire residents to clean and maintain public spaces in the city's historically disinvested neighborhoods.

Called the Clean Corps Initiative, the program would fund community and citywide organizations working to address blight in up to 15 neighborhoods. 

The Mayor's Office is investing $14.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to kickstart the program for a two-and-a-half-year period. The announcement marks the mayor's latest investment from the city's $641 million ARPA funding allotment. 

"This program is a great example of the City leveraging ARPA funding to produce the greatest possible impact for our residents," Scott said. "Everyone deserves to live in a clean and healthy community and with Clean Corps we are actively expanding our capacity to maintain neighborhoods and proactively address blighted spaces, all while providing meaningful employment for residents in our communities, '' Scott continued.

The neighborhoods to get service would be determined by factors like the number of service request calls and highest decrease in population. 

The ARPA investment will fund grants to community and citywide organizations that would hire residents to clean up. Those hired as part of the initiative will earn $15 an hour. 

The city's Department of Planning is working with several city agencies, including the Department of Public Works and the Mayor's Office of Employment Development to support the program. 

DPW Director Jason Mitchell, who oversaw a similar program in Oakland, California, said in a statement Clean Corps would provide numerous benefits to the city. 

"This program not only allows for the community to partner with the City to establish more beautiful neighborhoods, but it also empowers our residents by creating a greater sense of civic pride and increased opportunities for economic development," Mitchell said. "By allowing residents to earn income and learn how to work with our agency, we are creating a pipeline for long-term careers in public works," Mitchell continued.

The program is part of the "Ensuring Clean and Healthy Communities" pillar of the mayor's action plan released last year. 

Officials like Chris Ryer, Director of the Baltimore City Department of Planning, hope cleaner neighborhoods could have a profound impact on those who live there. 

"Our hope is that this explores a new paradigm for how the city maintains the livability of communities suffering from population decline and ultimately reverses their trajectory," Ryer said. 

The mayor's office said it hopes to secure more funding beyond the Clean Corps Initiative's initial period to continue the program and expand it into more neighborhoods.  

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