The Health Department plans to launch a new pilot program aimed at driving down ballooning rat infestations in neighborhoods in Manhattan and the Bronx. Credit: Ari Moore/Flickr
The city announced on Tuesday that it's racing to get rid of rats in some of the city's most infested areas.
The Health Department plans to launch a new pilot program aimed at driving down ballooning rat populations in what its calling "rat reservoirs."
Currently, the program is budgeted $611,000 to focus on these pockets of major infestation, which the city defined as locations where even repeated extermination attempts aren't cutting down the number of rats and individual owners can't address the problem on their own.
Parks, subways and privately owned buildings can all be susceptible to persistent rat nests, but the pilot will focus specifically on northern Manhattan and the South Bronx.
The Health Department declined to say which neighborhoods in particular might see more rat patrolling. Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Health Dan Kass advised the City Council on Tuesday that the problem is more spread out than in just particular communities.
"Not every neighborhood has a reservoir, but some of the neighborhoods have some of these reservoirs," Kass said.
Both Manhattan and the Bronx have been subject to "rat indexing" by the Health Department, since about 2006, whereby the agency proactively goes out through the borough to track and inspect properties.
In Manhattan alone, its northern-most communities outpace the number of failed inspections. About 9.8 percent of inspections around the Morningside and Hamilton Heights sections test positive for rats, while 12 percent of locations in Washington Heights and Inwood fail inspections.
Comparatively, 2.3 percent of inspections in Greenwich Village and 1.9 percent of inspections in the Upper East Side fail.
With the additional money, the department said it will work with local groups in the neighborhoods and other partners to better target the reservoirs, as well as appoint a person of contact for property owners and managers to coordinate efforts.
"Rats wouldn't reproduce and populate our city if we didn't feed them and give them water," said Health Department Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett on Tuesday.
Failed rat inspections by Manhattan Community Districts