MANHATTAN, N.Y. (PIX11) — New York City officials are working to curb a growing number of rat complaints to 311. 

According to City Councilmember Sandy Nurse, who chairs the council’s Sanitation Committee, there were approximately 18,000 complaints in September 2020, compared to nearly 30,000 in September 2022. 

“Over the last two years, the Department of Sanitation got a lot of cuts – agency cuts,” said Nurse. “Collections have been pulled back. Keeping the street clean has been pulled back.”

A group of city council members is now working to pass legislation later this month to curb rat issues. The root cause of the problem is multifaceted and includes more than cuts in Sanitation. 

“A lot of the outdoor dining is creating complications, but it’s also the fact that we put out our trash on the sidewalk…which is basically like putting out a buffet for rats,” said Councilmember Erik Bottcher. 

Both Bottcher and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine are working to mandate builders to hire exterminators before obtaining permits. 

New Yorkers we spoke with are all too familiar with the problem.

“The New York City rat problems has gotten significantly worse,” said resident Zack Kessler. “When garbage piles up, and it doesn’t get picked up for days, the rats find a new home and they are very happy about it.”

I think it’s definitely something that needs to be fixed,” said Taliya Bland, who said the problem has gotten so bad, she once accidentally stepped on a rat walking down the street. 

New Yorker Tia Williams took a more optimistic approach to the issue. “It’s part of the vibe, the culture,” said Williams, referring to rats. “It’s what New York’s all about.”