NYC’s pricey rodent revolt may finally be working

Investments are up and complaints are down, but rats aren’t going down easy.

rat sightings NYC over time

Olivia Heller

You’re paying $3.5k per month for that one-bedroom New York City shoebox, but Pizza Rat is living inside Mayor Eric Adams’ head rent-free.

New York’s rat problem isn’t anything new, but progress on it sure is. And progress is appearing to be made.

  • Rat complaints to the city’s 311 hotline are down 20% YoY in recent months and 45% in the city’s focused mitigation zones like Harlem, where the mayor recently invested $3.5m into new rat-fighting ammo.

This all comes after:

  • The city paid McKinsey & Co. $1.6m for a study on, uh, “The Future of Trash” with street cleaning and rat deterrence being the key focuses (see page 78 for a rat wheeling a suitcase).
  • The recent appointment of rat czar Kathleen Corradi, who beat out ~900 applicants with her “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor, and general aura of badassery” — actual requirements for the job (and its $155k salary).

It’s too early to tell if we’re out of the woods

Rats have long been an issue. Way back in 1982 — yup, 1982 is “way back” — the UN estimated rats destroyed 42m+ tons of food worldwide, worth $30B. More recent estimates have pegged rats’ worldwide economic damage between 1930 and 2022 at $297.4B.

In New York, Mayor Giuliani once tossed $8m at the issue. Mayor Bloomberg created a “rodent academy” for public employees. Mayor de Blasio committed $32m in 2017, but covid snagged efforts.

And that’s just the money. Cases of leptospirosis in NYC have been on the rise, and studies have connected rat infestations to anxiety and depression.

All that’s to say, the rat race may be showing signs of weakness, but it ain’t over yet.

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