Politics

New York mayor says rats will 'hate' new rat czar

Rat czar Kathleen Corradi says she wants New York City to move past being known as the home of the "Pizza Rat."

A rat forages in the bushes at a park in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York
Mary Altaffer/AP

Dedicating $3.5 million to rid the city of rats, New York City Mayor Eric Adams just announced the hiring of Kathleen Corradi, the city's "rat czar." 

Adams said that rats in New York City "are going to hate Kathy." Adams' office said Corradi will use different city agencies to reduce the city's rat population. 

Part of Corradi's directive will be to eradicate rats from government-run housing, schools and parks in the city's Harlem neighborhood. She will have a staff of 19 full-time workers and 12 seasonal employees in Harlem. Workers will be equipped with bait, traps, sensors, and fumigation machines. 

The city also said private properties in Harlem will be inspected twice annually for rat-related violations, and issued citations accordingly.

Corradi was previously a teacher and program lead at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She later developed New York City's Zero Waste Schools program. She most recently was the Department of Education's Queens Director of Space Planning. 

"Rat mitigation is more than a quality-of-life issue for New Yorkers," she said. "Rats are a symptom of systemic issues, including sanitation, health, housing, and economic justice. As the first director of rodent mitigation, I'm excited to bring a science — and systems — based approach to fight rats."

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Corradi referenced a viral video of a rat eating one of New York City's iconic thin crust pizzas. 

"New York may be famous for the Pizza Rat, but rats, and the conditions that help them thrive will no longer be tolerated — no more dirty curbs, unmanaged spaces, or brazen burrowing," she said. "I'm honored to lead this work, grateful to Mayor Adams for this opportunity, and look forward to sending the rats packing."

Jonathan Auerbach, then a doctoral student at Columbia University, studied the city's rat population in 2014 to answer the question, "Does the city "have as many rats as humans?" According to Auerbach, the answer was no. 

There were roughly an estimated 2 million rats at the time of the study, which by his own admission was probably an overestimate. There are 8 million humans living in New York City, based on census data.