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Baltimore awarded rat extermination funds after Trump administration tried to ax grant program that funds it

The federal government awarded funds to Baltimore City for a rat extermination program several months after Trump Administration tried to end a grant program that funds it, according to a spokesperson for the city.

In March, the White House proposed eliminating the Community Development Block Grant, which the housing authority uses to pay for its rat-elimination program and other programs.

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The Trump administration’s proposal to cut the funding mechanism for the rat extermination program came four months before President Donald Trump tweeted that parts of Baltimore were a “rat and rodent infested mess.” Trump also wrote “no human being would want to live there” in a series of tweets criticizing Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district.

Baltimore’s rat program, called HEAL, or the Healthy Elimination of All Pests Longterm, has slashed active burrows across Baltimore’s public housing from 1,836 in 2017 when the program began, to 143 as of the timing of Trump’s tweets at the end of July, according to Ken Strong, a special assistant with the Housing Authority

After the administration proposed cutting the block grant program, Congress fought to keep it and won.

The Community Development Block Grant program, which funded $22 million of improvements in Baltimore last year, is incredibly popular across the country. The Nixon administration initiated the federal grant program in the early 1970s as a way to give more local control over federal housing funds. Its main goal is to ensure “decent affordable housing,” but it also provides after-school programs to low-income children and assistance on closing costs to purchase homes.

Baltimore’s Housing Authority received $300,000 in block grants for HEAL during its first two years of operation. It applied and recently won an additional $50,000 to keep the program going, according to a city spokesperson.

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