HARLEM, Manhattan — Throughout the last year and a half, the pandemic has created new issues while also causing a spike in existing ones — particularly with litter.
An excess of garbage has been seen throughout the streets of New York City and helping to fix this problem is the City Cleanup Corps.
One team is deployed on 125th Street in East Harlem and the members are picking up trash to keep the neighborhood looking vibrant, Nathan Moran, assistant director of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, said.
“They’re active in the community, cleaning sidewalks, doing supplementary sanitation,” Moran said. “We’re really happy and proud of the presence that we’ve brought to the neighborhood.”
The East Harlem route was just added and is part of a larger citywide effort to beautify public spaces across the five boroughs. They also help in removing graffiti and creating murals.
They’re playing an active role in the city’s recovery— not only for residents of the neighborhood, but also for tourists, too. The Metro-North Harlem line is an area they focus on and they want passengers coming off the train to be greeted by a clean environment.
Carey King, director of Uptown Grand Central, said there’s a consistent presence of people passing through and the clean up crew is making a difference.
“The business owners notice it, the families notice it, the commuters notice it and so it just makes the neighborhood feel more taken care of,” King said.
It’s also gratifying for those doing the cleaning like Margiet Lebron.
“It makes me feel better because it makes me know that I’m making it better for my kids,” Lebron said. “I got two kids and I want my daughters to walk somewhere where there’s not garbage.”
According to NYCEDC, 150,000 pounds of trash has been cleaned up across the city so far.
Just a month ago in East Harlem, 400 bags of trash were being filled a week. Now, it’s down to 200 bags a week, according to Gary Linares, the program director at Positive Workforce.
“We have an army of cleaning people on the street every day,” Linares said. “Cleaning up now that the pandemic is lifting, we’re hiring more people and we’re hiring more shifts so they could keep the city clean.”
The city is looking to hire 10,000 people to help continue this work. The pay is $15 to $20 an hour and there are still spots available, so if you’re interested, click here for more information on how to apply.