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Are New York City's Rats Finally on the Run?

New York City

Rat complaints, building staffs, garbage set-out times, co-op and condo boards.
July 28, 2023

New York City’s crackdown on rats has resulted in a 20% citywide decrease in 311 calls complaining about rat activity, according to an announcement from Mayor Eric Adams, Crain's reports.  

The decline was even sharper — 45% — in the city’s rat mitigation zones, areas that receive special attention to fight infestations: the Grand Concourse area in the Bronx; Harlem, the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Greenwich Village in Manhattan; and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. The figures come from the city’s Rodent Mitigation Report, which updated  data from May to mid-July and compared it to last year’s numbers from the same period. 

According to a Crain’s analysis, there were more than 25,000 reported rat sightings in 2021, the peak year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 54% surge from 2020. In response, the Adams administration rolled out a multi-pronged, $3.5 million initiative to address the issue and named Kathleen Corradi as the city’s first “rat czar” in April.

In March, in a move designed to limit dinner hour for rats, the city implemented a rule pushing back the time residential buildings and businesses could haul out garbage, moving it from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Garbage in secure bins, a rarity in the city, can be set out after 6 p.m. One property manager told Habitat that the move had effectively turned day jobs into night jobs for many co-op and condo building staffers, an unwelcome change. In April, the city Department of Sanitation made schedule changes to trash collection and moved about 30% of collection to the midnight shift, rather than daytime. 

In June, the city started requiring food-related businesses to switch to containerized trash to reduce the number of plastic bags on the street. In October, Brooklyn will have automatic, guaranteed and free weekly collection of compostable organic waste, including food scraps and yard waste. By October 2024, the city plans to offer the same service in all five boroughs. The program is a major step toward reducing shipments to landfills, which produce methane, a greenhouse gas. 

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