Baltimore will hire community members to clean and maintain public spaces as part of an initiative that will be supported by $14.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

As part of the new “Clean Corps” initiative, the mayor’s office will work with local community and citywide organizations to hire community members for beautification work. Once hired, community members will remove debris from alleyways, public trash cans, and vacant lots in up to 15 historically disinvested neighborhoods.

The neighborhoods that will be cleaned will be selected based on a number of factors, including highest number of service request calls; highest decrease in population; and highest number of privately owned vacant lots, according to city officials.

“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 said in a statement.

Later in August, the Baltimore Civic Fund is planning to issue a Request for Applications for partner organizations to receive grant funding. Selected organizations will each work with a neighborhood to hire residents, who will earn $15 an hour for their work.

Before work begins, grantees must also demonstrate that they have the support of the neighborhood association of their individual neighborhood.

The Clean Corps initiative is expected to last for two-and-a-half years, but the city will continue to pursue further funding to expand the program.

“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,” said Jason Mitchell, Baltimore’s director of public works, in a statement.

The Clean Corps initiative is part of Scott’s first term action plan

Established last December, the plan seeks to improve Baltimore City in five areas: “Building Public Safety”; “Prioritizing Youth”; “Clean & Healthy Communities”; “Equitable Neighborhood Development”; and “Responsible Stewardship of City Resources.”

The Clean Corps initiative falls under the “Clean & Healthy Communities” pillar, which seeks to “improve the cleanliness of Baltimore neighborhoods, streets, parks, and public spaces.”

In a Goucher Poll released earlier this summer, 70% of residents polled believed litter and illegal dumping is a “major issue” facing the city.

City officials hope the Clean Corps initiative will help keep Baltimore’s streets clean.

Chris Ryer, director of the city’s Department of Planning, said in a statement, “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.”

Liv Barry

Liv Barry is Baltimore Fishbowl's 2022 summer reporting intern. Barry is rising junior at Washington College, where she is majoring in communication and media studies and double minoring in journalism,...