A new report from The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica spotlights a certain White House senior advisor’s connections to a real estate firm with a record of taking low-income tenants to court and operating slum-like apartments in the Baltimore suburbs.
In a lengthy article in the The Times’ magazine section (now published online), writer Alec MacGillis takes a detailed look at the frustrations of life in a series of suburban apartment complexes assembled by the Kushner Companies of New York.
The development firm is in the limelight because it was run for many years by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, now a top-level White House adviser. It’s the source of much of Jared Kushner’s wealth.
Through affiliates, the Kushner Companies acquired thousands of apartments in the Baltimore area over the years. Although Jared Kushner stepped down as CEO of the Kushner Companies in January and has divested from some of these properties since joining Trump’s White House, he has kept most of his real estate holdings — and that’s the peg to the Times/ProPublica article.
“Baltimore-area renters complain about a property owner they say is neglectful and litigious,” the article states. “Few know their landlord is the president’s son-in-law.”
These are not upscale apartments overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor or in repurposed loft buildings. They’re aging garden apartments and townhouses that can be found off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway or in economically stagnant areas such as Essex and Middle River.
MacGillis, a former Baltimore Sun staff writer, is now a reporter for ProPublica, an independent nonprofit investigative journalism organization. His story was a collaboration between The Times and ProPublica.
According to his story, “Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire“:
Kushner’s largest concentration of multifamily units is in the Baltimore area, where the company controls 15 complexes in all — which, if you assume three residents per unit, could be home to more than 20,000 people. All but two of the complexes are in suburban Baltimore County, but they are only ‘suburban’ in the most literal sense. They sit along arterial shopping strips or highways, yet they are easy to miss — the Highland Village complex, for example, is beside the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, but the tall sound barriers dividing it from the six-lane highway render its more than 1,000 units invisible to the thousands traveling that route every day.
MacGillis depicts Jared Kushner as a litigious landlord, taking advantage of down-on-their-luck tenants who don’t have many options. He writes about the poor maintenance of the buildings, unpleasant living conditions, and the landlord’s aggressive efforts to evict tenants when they fall behind on their rent.
Readers are introduced to resident Kamiia Warren, who moved out of Cove Village in Essex to get away from an unpleasant neighbor, and Shawanda Hough, who moved out of a Kushner-owned apartment in Randallstown because it had mold that was aggravating her son’s asthma. Both were sued for breaking their leases.
MacGillis wrote that a Kushner representative told him that the company has a fiduciary responsibility to its investors to collect outstanding debts.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the story is that many of the residents don’t make the connection between their landlord and President Trump’s son-in-law.
“That Jared Kushner?” asked a plumber who lives in Kushner’s Harbor Point Estates, after speaking with MacGillis. “Oh, my God. And I thought he was the good one.”
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