New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared war on rats in 2017. His clarion call demanded "more rat corpses." The city council mobilized and minted $32 million for his rat extermination campaign.
The rat war is now two years old. So how’s the city faring?
This week, our organization at OpenTheBooks.com and The New York Times published an analysis of the city’s 311 non-emergency reports of "rat sightings."
From the Times:
Rat sightings reported to the city’s 311 hotline have soared nearly 38 percent, to 17,353 last year from 12,617 in 2014, according to an analysis of city data by OpenTheBooks.com, a nonprofit watchdog group, and
The New York Times. In the same period, the number of times that city health inspections found active signs of rats nearly doubled.
The Times reporter Winnie Hu concluded, "so far the city is losing."
After dropping about 9 percent last year, rat sightings are again on the upswing. In the first four months of 2019 (4,612), rat sightings are up again versus the same period 2018 (4,508).
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com plotted all reports of rat sightings since 2018 by address as reported to New York City’s 311 non-emergency hotline.
Using our interactive map, just click a pin and scroll down to review the results (all reports by address) rendered in the chart beneath the map. Available data is the result of resident reporting to the city’s 311 dispatchers since 2018.
New York faces an unprecedented rat challenge. Just last year, cases were reported in all five city boroughs, 187 ZIP codes, and at 11,500 city addresses.
Since 2010, the worst borough for rat sightings was Brooklyn with 44,850 or roughly 1 in every 3 cases. Staten Island reported the fewest sightings (5,983). The other boroughs reported rat sightings: Manhattan (33,553), Bronx (25,754), and Queens (18,783).
Last year, 187 ZIP codes in the city were affected. However, the top ten locations – with the highest concentration of rat 311 reports – registered roughly one in five rat sightings citywide.
ZIP Code 10025:
The rats are running wild in this fancy area on the Upper West side of Manhattan. With the Hudson River and Central Park as borders, the area is home to the fraternities at Columbia University and many millionaires. In fact, the median home value is $934,000.
Rats love it too. It ranked number three for rat sightings by ZIP code. There were 3,096 instances of rats reported in the public way since 2010.
ZIP Code’s 11221, 11216, and 11238:
Brooklyn is gentrifying and with the destruction of their burrows and homes – rats are popping up all over. The most rat sightings occurred in the Brooklyn borough.
Here are some of the leading areas within Brooklyn:
Since 2010, more than 3,800 rat sightings were reported in ZIP code 11221. There are nearly 80,000 people living in this area and the median home value is $543,800.
Rat sightings were reported 3,145 times within ZIP code 11216 – an area that borders ZIP code 11221. There are 54,000 people living in this area and the median home value is nearly $623,000.
There were 2,948 rat sightings within ZIP code 11238. There are approximately 49,000 people living in this area and the median home value is $656,800.
Even after a $32 million taxpayer-funded assault, the rodents don’t seem to be too concerned. The rat population levels look to be about 70 percent higher today than in 2010.
Combating rodent populations in developing urban areas is no easy task. Other cities may want to study the New York invasion before throwing taxpayer money down rat holes in their locales.
Photo by Jared Belson