Jarrett Lyons


Brooklyn’s rat infestations have been so bad that a “Rat Summit” took place this June to have a community brainstorm session about how to fix the problem.

Bushwick has a lot of rats. You probably already know. Maybe you’ve exasperatingly explored the Rat Information Portal at NYC.gov.  Maybe you know because you’re just trying to get home but have regular stand-offs with a few furry friends on the sidewalk.

There are numbers to back up your regular encounters. Bushwick is the second most rat infested neighborhood in Brooklyn according to NYC.gov. Bedford Stuyvesant ranks number one in the city for neighborhood with the most rat complaints.

The recent summit was held at Restoration Plaza and was co-hosted by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Robert Cornegy. And they were pretty vocal about their disdain for rodents on Twitter.

Government officials have done their best to improve how they tackle the issue. NYC.gov provides access to public data on the rodent problem, including maps with the numbers in the most affected areas of Brooklyn. In the latest data compiled for 2016, 1687 properties were inspected in Community Board 3, which includes Bedford Stuyvesant. Of the properties inspected 221 failed for rats and 53 failed for methods of garbage handling and storage.

There are three results that come from rat inspections. The first is a passed inspection, meaning that the location has no signs of rat presence. The second is “problem conditions,” meaning the location has bad garbage handling habits, dense shrubbery, and mice sightings. Finally there is “active rat signs” which can include fresh rat tracks or droppings, burrows, evidence of gnawing, and actual sightings of live rats.

Of the properties inspected 221 failed for active rat signs and 53 failed for methods of garbage handling and storage. Bushwick was inspected in spring and fall of 2016. In the spring, 1472 properties were inspected with 280 properties failing due to active rat signs and 36 for problem conditions. In the fall, 342 properties were inspected, with 27 and five failing for active rat signs and problem conditions.

There are already plenty of snippets of advice to tame the infestations on the portal. Some of the tips are common sense reminders like making sure garbage bags and containers are sealed. There are other methods like less like reminding residents to rinse recyclable items so they don’t attract pests. 

The community itself has been actively trying to solve the problem too. In the weeks leading up the summit, the 100 Jefferson Block Association and the Bridge Street Development Corporation hosted a “Rat Academy” which included free training for local residents, superintendents and businesses and a raffle for ten free rodent resistant trash bins.

Council Member Cornegy and Brooklyn Borough President Adams have been aggressive on rats in the past. Adams posted on Twitter this past March that he will support stalling the granting of new building permits until the problem is solved. 

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Photo courtesy of Free Stocks