At a Town Hall In Bushwick, Locals Complain About Rats

Among the top concerns at a town hall meeting this past week at Central Baptist Community Outreach, run by the somewhat-new City Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, were trash, sanitation and growing hygiene concerns throughout the neighborhood. 

Several people, particularly small business owners, said the hygiene issues were what was leading to a growing concentration of rats in the neighborhood. 

Gutiérrez, who took office last January, was joined by cop Alexandra Sarubbi, a deputy inspector at the 83rd Precinct and,Arleshia Wellington, from the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Elsewhere sat Teresa Cunningham, community liaison for the sanitation department.

“We have definitely increased a lot of the services that were taken away during the pandemic, and are looking to continue to make sure the area is clean,” Cunningham told them.

A couple dozen residents showed up at the town hall this week to express concerns about safety, rats and waste management.

Gutiérrez had opened with an update on the North Brooklyn Housing Task Force, a group tasked with an estimated 200 migrant families that are searching for shelter in Bushwick and Williamsburg. 

Maria Hernandez Park, Gutiérrez then added, will get $5.5 million in capital investments to renovate its playground, and spoke about wanting to increase doula services to combat disproportionate maternal mortality rates in underrepresented communities, in addition to community preparation for floods and environmental safety. 

Small business owners and long-time neighbors had lined up to bring up concerns over illegal dumping, concerns with safety and, most notably, rats. 

“I own a business and have been here for a long time,” said a resident who wished to remain anonymous. “We’ve never had rats in our store. For the last month and a half, we’ve been fighting rats coming in and out. I don’t know why, we don’t have food or a kitchen.”

“Everyday there’s some people dumping their stuff there. They’re dumping food, they’re dumping trash, they’re dumping furniture, and we get in trouble for that stuff,” they went on.

Nicole De Santis, from a group called the Clean Bushwick Initiative had showed up and turned the conversation to reducing food waste and cleaning up abandoned outdoor dining sheds.

“There’s not one solution, so I think that’s something to keep in mind,” said De Santis. “If we can get the food out of these garbage bags and into compost bins, we will see a noticeable reduction in this rodent population.” 

De Santis urged residents to use compost bins

“If you have an issue, we want to work with you,” said Wellington, adding that people should hire professional exterminators and file an inspection requests to safely handle rodent issues themselves.

 “It is a community effort,” she told them.

Gutiérrez, who had convened the meeting, added that appreciated neighborhood groups like ACE and the Clean Bushwick Initiative for what they’ve done to keep areas clean and connected with city agencies. 

“It’s important that we’re all playing our part,” she said. 

All images taken by Hilal Bahcetepe for Bushwick Daily.

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  1. Often, disinfectants are not 100% effective and you need to keep an ear to the ground and control the pest situation. Communication and collaboration between office and field teams will become instantaneous with quick access to important information through the software, then pest control will become more effective. 

  2. It’s not the garbage in the streets that is bringing these Rats Out!, It’s all these construction sites building and disturbing the underground rat dens. Lets look into how to stop these rodents from multiplying with some type of chemical.