It’s a persistent and pervasive problem plaguing the streets of New York City: Rats.
City Council members say simple solutions can curb the proliferation of rodents holding a news conference and calling this a city infestation.
“It’s a sanitation and a public health issue more than anything,” councilmember Sandy Nurse said. “Rats in homes, rats have been known to bite people, they carry disease, they trigger asthma.”
Council member Nurse, who chairs the Sanitation Committee, has a Rat Action Plan to address the increase in complaints.
In the first four months of this year, 311 received 7,400 calls about rat sightings. That’s an over 60% jump compared to the same period in 2019 before the pandemic began.
“This is not rocket science,” Nurse said. “Rats don’t go where they can’t eat. Rats aren’t where they don’t thrive. So if we create the conditions where we are preventing them from having food and shelter, then they will leave.”
As part of its budget adopted last month, the council approved $4.8 million for rate mitigation. Elected leaders want to use that money in their Rat Action Plan.
A package of bills would identify zones prone to rat infestations and require the sanitation department to report on progress battling the vermin.
The plan would also mandate developers come up with a rat mitigation plan before getting a construction permit. Rat-proof trash bins in rat mitigation zones would be required. And lastly, mandate buildings with nine or more units to put out garbage at designated times.
According to city data, 311 received over 25,000 calls reporting rats last year. Most of those calls came from Brooklyn, Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
“What are we waiting for?,” councilmember Chi Ossé said. “Constantly, our offices are hearing complaints about rat sighting in their neighborhoods, mostly in neighborhoods of color that we represent.”
This package of bills is in the sanitation committee. If it passes there, it will go for a vote before the full council.
Sponsors expect that happening in late summer or early fall.
If approved, city agencies would then have to come up with an implementation plan.