Baltimore launched an intensive three-month pilot project yesterday to eliminate rats in a 16-square-block area of East Baltimore.
The project involves a coordinated effort by several municipal agencies that will include stepped-up housing code enforcement and additional rat-baiting coupled with school and community health education campaigns.
As part of the project, the city will seek permission from owners to have their property baited for rats, and Department of Public Works crews will make a special effort to pour concrete into all rat burrows, said Elias A. Dorsey, deputy health commissioner, who is in charge of the effort.
The city will also run a door-to-door campaign and sponsor a program at Tench Tilghman Elementary School, located in the 600 block of N. Patterson Park Ave., aimed at educating residents about better sanitation and the health dangers of rats.
"We're not just sending city workers in," said Mr. Dorsey. "What we're trying to do has to do a lot with changing attitudes, just getting people to follow proper rules of sanitation. What we're after is trying to get them not to leave things out for rats."
The Hechinger Co. has donated 100 32-gallon trash containers to be given to needy families in the project area, located in the Middle East neighborhood and bounded by Fayette, Monument, Chester and Milton streets.
A recent survey by the city housing department showed that of 1,159 premises in the project area, 145 are infested by rats and 291 have no trash containers, health officials said.
At the end of three months, the city will attempt to measure the project's effectiveness by tracking the number of complaints of rat infestations and the tons of trash collected.