NYC announces $32 million rodent plan


July 13, 2017

On July 12, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio 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. All aspects of this integrated pest management (IPM) plan will be launched by the end of 2017.

“All New Yorkers deserve to live in clean and healthy neighborhoods,” says Mayor 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.”

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 “mailbox” opening and that have resulted in 90 percent 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 New York City Housing Authority (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 pest management and cleanouts, has been evidenced to reduce resident-generated work orders related to rats at NYCHA facilities by 40 percent.  Additionally, $8.8 million in will be invested in new NYCHA trash compactors to properly store waste, often replacing machines more than 20 years old and far past normal useful life. Requests for Proposal (RFPs) will be issued before the end of the year, with installation set to begin in 2018.
  • Better trash management in New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)-designated areas. The plan proposes a local law that requires buildings containing more than 10 units within the Mitigation Zones to curb garbage after 4am 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 New York City Department of Sanitation (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 pickup 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. The Administration 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 4 a.m. in DOHMH set areas, call for low-performing buildings to enroll in organics collection, instruct foodservice 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 percent 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,” says 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.”


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  1. It’s about time. I remember a few years ago, Bobby Corrigan was looking into this, and seemed like nothing happened. Glad to read the Mayor is onboard