While President Donald Trump continues going after the city of Baltimore, which he called "a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" where "no human being would want to live,” many critics are pointing out that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owns a number of nearby housing projects in the city with building violations.
Trump’s characterization coincided with his attack of Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, who represents Maryland’s 7th district. Trump accused Cummings of stealing money intended for the city and failing to protect the residents of his district, which Trump called “dangerous and filthy.”
However, Trump seems to forget Kushner, who is a senior White House adviser, owns several housing projects in Baltimore, which have received over 200 code violations.
Then Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is now deceased, said at the time of the violations that Kushner’s company, Kushner Cos., only made repairs to their properties when the county threatened to impose fines and withhold Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) payments.
"Contrary to the assertions of the Kushner Cos. that they are in compliance with local laws, our inspectors identified and cited more than 200 code violations in properties owned by Jared Kushner," Kamenetz said.
"Repairs were made only after the county threatened to withhold rent or issue fines. And in nine instances, we had to carry through with threatened sanctions," he added. "We expect all landlords to comply with the code requirements that protect the health and safety of their tenants, even if the landlord's father-in-law is President of the United States."
Current Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. recently commented on the attacks, saying there’s a “certain irony” in hearing President Trump go after Cummings given Kushner’s history.
In an interview with The Baltimore Sun this week, Olszewski said the conditions of many of the apartments are not suitable.
“We had to both threaten significant fines as well as withholding federal payments to ensure there was compliance,” Olszewski told the paper. “There’s a certain irony in hearing the president attacking a city and region when his own son-in-law was directly involved and his company was directly involved in creating the conditions where that quality of life was threatened.”
“You’re talking about a company that was using local taxpayer dollars to help subsidize these apartments and they were frankly in conditions that as a father I wouldn’t want to raise my daughter or my family in,” he added.
Kushner’s housing projects house up to 20,000 people, most of whom are Black.
One resident, Dezmond James, says he sees as many as three mice a week in his apartment in Commons at White Marsh, reported the Associated Press.
“They don’t care,” James told Associated Press. “[Trump’s] son-in-law owns all of this — then he can fix it. I'm pretty sure he has a lot of money. That's kind of weird that you want to talk trash. ... If you want to make improvements, you can make improvements."
Simone Ryer, who moved to Kushner’s property Whispering Woods two years ago, says she’s had a constant mold problem in her apartment.
"I had black mold in my cabinets. I called them, I called them, I called them. And they never did anything. That was more than enough for me to leave,” she told the Associated Press.
While a website for the Commons at White Marsh says the property has "amenities that amaze," reviews of the complex on apartmentratings.com cite issues with rats, mold, bedbugs, roaches, leaks, and an unresponsive management office.
Kusher’s other property, Dutch Village community, in Baltimore, has also seen complaints of leaks and rodents.
Ronald Newson told the Associated Press his 86-year-old mother, Carrie, has spent nearly a year trying to get maintenance staff to patch a hole in her ceiling from a leak on the second floor. She has also requested someone come exterminate all the mice in her home.
"It takes them a long time to get repairs done," Carrie’s son told Associated Press. "[Trump] talks about everyone but his son-in-law."
In a statement to the Associated Press, Kushner Cos. said it has worked to maintain a "high-quality residential experience for our tenants" by investing "substantial amounts" in upkeep.