According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City has launched a $32 million plan to reduce it’s rat infestation.
“All New Yorkers deserve to live in clean and healthy neighborhoods,” said 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 plan will target the most infested parts of the city: Bushwick/Bedford-Stuyvesant, Chinatown/East Village/Lower East Side and the Grand Concourse area of the Bronx. By “minimizing food sources and available habitats” for rats, it aims to reduce the infestation by up to 70 percent by the end of 2018.
As many as 2 millions rats live in the city, according to a Columbia University doctoral student.
Though the student’s estimations debunked the popular theory that there is one rat for each of NYC’s 8 million people, it showed that the city’s rat population was indeed a major problem. Rats not only carry disease but also affect the quality of life, making them a threat to public health.
NYC’s new investment will also expand upon its Health Department’s “Rat Reservoir” program. Started in 2014, the program focused on areas conducive to rats in six locations in Manhattan and the Bronx.
The New York City Health Department has received more than 10,000 complaints of rat sightings since the beginning on 2017. According to the mayor’s office, more than 15 percent of the more than 24,000 properties inspected in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx showed “Active Rat Signs”.
NYC Health Officials also reported in February that one person had died and two others had contracted illnesses in the Bronx due to a rare disease transmitted by rats.
“While New York City has made important strides to curb the rodent population,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, “it’s clear more needs to be done to significantly and permanently reduce the scourge of rats across the five boroughs.”
The city’s plan will officially begin in September. Multiple city agencies, including the Sanitation, Parks and Health Departments, will take part in it.
To combat the rat infestation, city workers will improve public housing apartment buildings and replace dirt basement floors with concrete “rat pads.” They also will replace the city’s 20-year-old compactors with solar trash compactors with a “mail-box” opening, as well as its wire waste baskets with new steel ones, significantly reducing rats’ access to food sources.