Mayor Brandon Scott on Monday announces a new pilot program in the Coldstream Homestead Montebello neighborhood in northeast Baltimore, where residents will be paid to clean up their community. Image via Facebook Live.

Baltimore is launching a new program to pay neighborhood residents to clean trash and debris in their communities, Mayor Brandon Scott announced on Monday.

The pilot program is starting in the Coldstream Homestead Montebello (CHM) neighborhood in northeast Baltimore, but Scott said he hopes to replicate it in other neighborhoods.

Scott called CHM a community “near and dear to my heart,” the place where he “first cut my teeth as a community organizer.”

Through a partnership between the Baltimore City Department of Public Works and the Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corporation, the city will pay three neighborhood residents $15 an hour to clean trash away from their community.

In addition to payment for their services, the three residents will also receive workforce development training. At the completion of the pilot program, those individuals will be trained for full-time employment with the public works department.

Mark Washington, executive director of the Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corporation, said that with city resources residents will be able to “tackle the scourge that is illegal dumping in Baltimore City.”

“My grandmother used to say it’s not where you live but how you live,” Washington said. “Today with the support of Mayor Brandon Scott, our [city government] partners, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and Healthy Neighborhoods, the communities of Coldstream Homestead Montebello choose to live with illegal dumping no more. Today we choose to be the change.”

Over the years, Scott said, he has spent more hours cleaning up CHM than any other neighborhood.

“What I always appreciated about coming to CHM for a community cleanup is it was community-driven,” the mayor said. “It was not ‘Let’s wait for the city,’ not ‘Let’s wait for someone else.’ It was ‘How can we take responsibility for our community and be a part of cleaning it up?’”

Washington, of the community corporation, said he is pleased that residents will now be paid for the work they have long been doing in their communities.

“Providing skill development and living wage employment opportunities for young people from the community to act as agents of change in their community is a vital component of this pilot program,” he said.

Public Works Acting Director Matthew Garbark said the program will free his staff to focus on larger projects.

“Collaboration with community groups improves the work we do and improves beautification of the city,” he said.

Garbark added that department will funnel service requests in the area to CHM’s cleaning crew. The city will review photos from before and after cleanups to keep records of the efforts.

The pilot program is being funded through a combined $70,000 of grants from the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Odette Ramos (District 14) said she is working with her fellow council members to increase fees for people who participate in illegal dumping.

“This is a community dedicated to making sure that nobody else dumps on our neighborhood,” she said.

Scott said the city is also relying on community members to report vehicles that are used for illegal dumping so that officials can track them down.

Scott also promoted Baltimore’s “Spring Cleanup Saturday” event on April 24, when residents will be encouraged to clean where they live.

“You clean in front of your house, your step, your stoop, your gutter,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to bring back: that sense of self-responsibility that all of us have.”

Residents can call 311 or visit to register their neighborhood to receive bags for their local cleanup.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at

2 replies on “Baltimore pilot program will pay residents to clean neighborhoods, combat illegal dumping”

  1. The people living in the community should already be keeping their community clean you shouldn’t have to pay people to clean their own community every day I come home from work if I see trash I go pick it up

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