Brooklyn Is the most Rat-Infested Borough, Locals Blame Construction and Gentrification

Georgina Hallowell

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It is no secret that New York City has been in an ongoing battle with rats but now, Brooklyn happens to be their favorite place.

In a recent study performed by RentHop, Brooklyn remains the borough with the most rat-sighting complaints at 6,565 calls to the city. The good part is the number of complaints is 9 percent lower than they were in 2017. However, the number of rat complaints throughout the area doesn’t reflect the number of rats in the area. 

Last year’s report found that the number of rat complaints had reached an all-time high. In turn, Mayor de Blasio introduced a 32 million dollar plan in 2018 to reduce the rat population involving more garbage pickups, new cans, and the use of dry ice to suffocate rats in their burrows. The plan targeted the most rat-infested neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Lower Manhattan and across the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.

Photo courtesy of Robert S. via Flickr.

A 24-year-old East New York resident, Brianna Moses admits that the rat problem has gotten worse, but she has never called to complain about it.

“It’s becoming an issue now because of the growing capacity. Brooklyn is now overcrowded. New buildings go up every day allowing more people to move to Brooklyn. The garbage on the streets is absurd. Sanitation isn’t really cleaning the streets. Homelessness is also at a new height in Brooklyn. All of these factors play a role,” said Moses.

In a recent article, New York Times said gentrification is the reason for the growing rat problem. Scientists and pest control experts said the “the city’s construction boom is digging up burrows, forcing more rats out into the open.”  

Rats tend to come to areas with overflowing trash cans as a food source. As narrow as many of New York sidewalks are, many of them are filled with garbage on the curb due to food establishments, buildings, and careless pedestrians.

Between 2010 and 2012, Bushwick had the highest number of rat complaint phone calls to 311 of all New York neighborhoods.

“It’s sad, but I’m born and raised in Brooklyn, so we’re used to this. I rather buy traps and catch them myself than call the city about it. What’s the wait time for that like?” asked Bushwick resident, 52-year-old Ryan Martinez.

Photo courtesy of Caruba via Flickr.

Many native Brooklynites echoed Martinez’s sentiments and admit that rats are unpleasant, but they are used to ridding their homes of the furry rodents themselves. City records show that Bushwick’s 27 Arion Place had the most rat complaints in 2017. 

One resident said he doesn’t live on the ground level so he hasn’t seen any but he moved there from Chauncey Street because there were too many rats. Another resident of the old-fashioned brick building said they have previously called the city about the rats.

“It was bad years ago. The courtyard used to be filled with them,” said the resident, who wished to stay anonymous. “What happens is all of these new buildings are going up. Construction is everywhere and when you break the ground, you displace the rats.”

Cover image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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