The city’s Department of Sanitation will empty litter baskets far more frequently, crack down on illegal dumping, clean up vacant lots and combat rats with the funding it secured in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, officials said Monday.
The budget the City Council has passed earlier this month includes $22 million in funding to ramp up litter collection — a sum that will allow sanitation workers to start emptying baskets 50,000 more times per week than they did previously, Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference Monday morning.
An additional $7.5 million will go toward “precision cleaning initiatives” that target illegal dumping and littering, he said.
Nearly $5 million, meanwhile, will be used to bolster staffing within the sanitation department’s Lot Cleaning Unit and keep the city’s vacant lots from turning into “dumping grounds,” Adams said.
The department will also put $4.8 million toward “rat mitigation,” Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch said at the briefing. The city is in the process of developing rat-proof litter baskets to replace its existing mesh baskets, she noted.
“Dirty streets just really impact everything we do, and so we heard the complaints loud and clear, and we are responding to the complaints on the ground,” Adams said. “Too long these areas have been ignored. We are not going to do that.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, in February 2020, the city fielded 58 311 complaints reporting overflowing litter baskets, Tisch said.
In July 2020 — after the Department of Sanitation’s budget was cut — that figure “ballooned to 790 complaints,” Tisch said.
“I am a data-driven person, and the numbers tell a shocking story,” she said. “But they also show that our cleaning strategies work when we have the resources to deploy them, and now we will, effective July 1.”
Earlier this year, Adams and Tisch unveiled a plan to install padlocked trash containers throughout the five boroughs as part of a clean streets pilot program.
Tisch on Monday said the containers were already in place in Manhattan and would “soon be in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and then Queens and the Bronx.”
“I am very confident that all of this will make a real, noticeable difference in every borough and every neighborhood in our city,” she said. “This summer, our neighborhoods are poised to come back cleaner and our city stronger.”