Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday announced a $32 million, multi-agency plan to reduce the city’s rat population that targets the three most infested parts of city: the Grand Concourse area, Chinatown/East Village/Lower East Side and Bushwick/Bedford-Stuyvesant. This interagency initiative aims to reduce rat activity by up to 70 percent in the targeted zones by minimizing food sources and available habitats.
This integrated pest management approach will build on the success of the City’s current rat abatement programs and attack environmental factors conducive to rats, which is more effective than poisoning rats alone. By dramatically reducing the available habitats and food sources in targeted areas, rat reproduction will diminish and rat colonies will decline. The City will achieve this by cementing dirt basements in NYCHA, purchasing better waste containers, increasing trash pickup and increasing enforcement of rat-related violations in these areas. All aspects of this plan will be launched by the end of 2017.
“All New Yorkers deserve to live in clean and healthy neighborhoods,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We refuse to accept rats as a normal part of living in New York City. This $32 million investment is a multi-pronged attack to dramatically reduce the rat population in the City’s most infested areas and improve the quality of life for residents.”
“The Department of Sanitation is proud to join with our sister agencies to step up the fight against rats in New York City,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “The best way to eliminate rats is to deprive them of food, including garbage in homes and litter on New York City streets. Increasing service and adding rodent resistant litter baskets will achieve this goal. I am excited to bring these and other approaches to the fight against rats in these targeted zones to significantly reduce the rat population. This plan promotes a healthier, safer and cleaner New York for all.”
“We are very excited to be part of this collaborative effort that builds upon the success of our rat reservoir program and strengthens the City’s capacity to prevent rat activity,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Our rat reservoir program has proven to be a valuable tool in reducing rat activity in some of the City’s most infested neighborhoods. As we get ready to graduate eleven rat reservoirs around the five boroughs, we are grateful for this new influx of resources and personnel to continue our work.”
“Protecting the health and safety of NYCHA residents is critical. Through this interagency initiative, we are improving the conditions of communities and investing in our residents’ quality of life,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “With Mayor de Blasio’s partnership, we’re taking an important step forward to provide safe, clean and connected communities for the 1 in 14 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home.”
“Keeping parks safe and beautiful means keeping them clean – and that means keeping rats at bay. New funding for state-of-the-art waste containers, improved steel baskets, and more frequent trash collection represents a major enhancement in Parks’ efforts against rats,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.
“HPD is proud to join this multi-agency task force created to protect New Yorkers from the health and safety issues presented when rats are present in large numbers in and around multifamily buildings. We look forward to lending our services to perform these very important inspections for the safety of all New York City residents,” said New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.
“We look forward to working with our partner agencies to help address rat infestations and improve the quality of life of all New Yorkers,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.
Rats contaminate food, have the potential to spread diseases and can reduce overall quality of life. Their gnawing and burrowing can damage utilities and erode the structural integrity of buildings. To reduce the rat population, the de Blasio Administration will implement the following new programs in the three mitigation zones:
New waste containers: The City will purchase 336 solar compactors that restrict access to trash with a “mail-box” opening and that have resulted in 90% rat reductions when fully deployed in concentrated areas. The City will also replace all the remaining wire waste baskets in the zones with 1,676 steel cans—both in parks and on street corners—which should meaningfully reduce rats’ access to food sources compared to current wire baskets. Installation of solar compactors and steels cans will begin by September.
Rat Pads in NYCHA buildings: The City will allocate $16.3 million in capital spending to replace dirt basement floors with concrete “rat pads” in prioritized NYCHA buildings within the Mitigation Zones. The cementing of basements, complemented by extermination and cleanouts, has been evidenced to reduce resident-generated work orders related to rats at NYCHA facilities by 40%. Additionally, $8.8 million in will be invested in new NYCHA trash compactors to properly store waste, often replacing machines more than twenty years old and far past normal useful life. Requests for Proposal will be issued before the end of the year, with installation set to begin in 2018.
Better trash management in DOHMH-designated areas: The plan proposes a local law that requires buildings containing more than ten units within the Mitigation Zones to curb garbage after the day of trash collection, greatly reducing the availability of rats’ food source. To further minimize rats’ food source, local laws will be proposed to require enrollment in organics collection by Food Service Establishments and low-performing buildings in the DOHMH-designated areas. A citywide local law will also be proposed to increase fines for illegal dumping by private business from $1,500 to $5,000 for first time offenses, with fines reaching up to $20,000 for additional violations.
More frequent trash pickup and anti-rat staff: The plan calls for increased DSNY basket and residential service in the most critical areas within the Mitigation Zones. Similarly, NYC Parks basket pickup will become an everyday occurrence in all parks within the Mitigation Zones, accompanied by targeted litter removal from parks. Increased DSNY and NYC Parks waste basket pick up has already begun, with increased DSNY residential pick up beginning by the end of August. Eight staff will be added to DOHMH’s anti-rat team; seven front-line staff and a sophisticated data scientist to allow DOHMH to conduct data-driven rat mitigation efforts. Finally, NYCHA’s MyNYCHA mobile app will be modified to ensure tenants can effectively create work orders for trash removal and rat mitigation.
Ramped-up enforcement of rat-related violations: DOHMH will lead full-building, multi-agency inspections of targeted private buildings alongside DOB, HPD, and DSNY to identify conditions that contribute to rat infestations, order owners to make repairs and issue violations when warranted. DSNY will undertake a three-month enforcement blitz against illegal dumping at major NYCHA facilities to pilot tactics that can reduce rat food sources and habitat. In addition, DSNY will focus outreach and enforcement to promote waste management best practices, including separating organic waste.
New laws to require better trash management: We will work with City Council to introduce new laws to improve trash management and reduce food for rats in these mitigation zones. These laws will require buildings with 10+ units to put out trash at in DOHMH set areas, call for low-performing buildings to enroll in organics collection, instruct Food Service Establishments to enroll in organics in areas set by DOHMH, and increase fines for improper waste disposal and illegal dumping.
This plan builds on the Administration’s previous efforts to manage rodent populations. In 2014, the Health Department piloted the Rat Reservoir program in six sites with high concentration of rats in Manhattan and the Bronx. The Rat Reservoir program targets rat colonies and conditions conducive to rats in sidewalks, catch basins, tree pits, and parks, in addition to buildings. In the first year of the pilot program, the Department’s efforts in the areas resulted in an 80 to 90 percent drop in active rat signs.
In 2015, Mayor de Blasio increased funding by $2.9 million to expand the City’s Rat Reservoir Program. The investment expanded the pilot program from the original six sites to 45 areas around the city. Prior to this investment, the City conducted pest control work with nine staff for a cost of $611,000 in six neighborhoods. The rat reservoir initiative significantly expanded the program to 50 staff and this new investment will bring that team up to 58.
“While New York City has made important strides to curb the rodent population, it’s clear more needs to be done to significantly and permanently reduce the scourge of rats across the five boroughs,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “That’s why I’m proud to support this new initiative that will allow the City to further reduce the rat population by better targeting the City’s most infested neighborhoods and minimizing food sources and nesting areas. This comprehensive new plan builds on existing rat abatement efforts and will tackle this quality of life issue and I thank Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to this pressing issue and for working with the City Council on real solutions to mitigate the rat population in NYC.”
“A rodent-free community is a healthier and safer place to live, work and play. This much-needed investment will help decrease rodent infestation in parts of my borough that have been affected the most by rodents and the health impact they can have on a community. I commend Mayor de Blasio for providing much-needed funding and organizing a multi-agency response to this public health menace,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“As the Ranking Member of Senate Health Committee and as a Bronx elected representative, I am elated that our City’s administration is putting in place a comprehensive plan of action to properly reduce the rat population in three of the most infested areas in our City. Particularly along the Grand Concourse, which is the heart of my district,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “This multi-agency effort will implement adequate measures that will not only provide New Yorkers with basic health standards, but in doing so, will also improve the quality of life in these neighborhoods. I’m committed to continue working with city agencies, community partners and constituents to ensure that every Bronx resident lives in a healthy and safe environment that is rodent free.”
“All too often, tenants are subjected to living conditions which are unfit and unsanitary,” said Assembly Member Victor Pichardo. “Rat infestations can spread disease and pose a serious health risk to our families and neighbors. The funding secured by Mayor de Blasio will make critical improvements to rat abatement and ensure a cleaner, more suitable living environment for tenants across the city.”
“Rats are destroying neighborhoods and endangering people. I’ve seen the impact of rat infestations in my district- parents afraid to leave children alone in their beds, family members suffering from rat bites, homes structurally damaged. It’s time to take major steps to fix this problem. I commend Mayor de Blasio’s multi-agency approach to strengthen rat abatement programs and reduce rat activity by 70%,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.
We could not agree more with the mayor and above quoted Bronx elected officials. I say that because there is a rat problem not only in NYCHA houses and parks as you will see in the next posting, but even in so-called upscale neighborhoods such as Riverdale, and right across from where one elected official lives, and where one plans to have a summer concert.