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Mayor Adams Anoints Kathleen Corradi as NYC's First-Ever 'Rat Czar'

April 12, 2023

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Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation Will Be First Dedicated Member of Mayor's Office Working Solely on Rat Reduction – Major Quality-of-Life and Health Challenge

Adams Administration Accelerates Rat Reduction Work in Harlem with Combined $3.5 Million Investment to Fight Rats Across Agencies

New York – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today appointed Kathleen Corradi as the city's first-ever citywide director of rodent mitigation, also known as the 'rat czar.' In this newly created role, Corradi will coordinate across city government agencies, community organizations, and the private sector to reduce the rat population in New York City – building a cleaner, more welcoming city and tackling a major quality-of-life and health issue. Mayor Adams also announced the new Harlem Rat Mitigation Zone and a $3.5 million investment starting in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) to expand and accelerate rat reduction work across Harlem.

"New York City has done a lot recently when it comes to fighting public enemy number one: rats. But it was clear we needed someone solely focused on leading our rat reduction efforts across all five boroughs, and today I'm proud to announce Kathy Corradi as New York City's first-ever 'rat czar,'" said Mayor Adams. "Kathy has the knowledge, drive, experience, and energy to send rats packing and create a cleaner more welcoming city for all New Yorkers. Beginning with this $3.5 million investment toward rodent mitigation in Harlem, Kathy will take the lead on our multi-agency effort to test new mitigation techniques, expand outreach and education efforts, and increase maintenance and remediation work. The rats are going to hate Kathy, but we're excited to have her leading this important effort."

"Rats are more than just a quality-of-life issue – they are a symbol of systemic issues that for too long have plagued New Yorkers, particularly low-income and communities of color," said Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack. "I'm thrilled to have Kathy Corradi as our first rat czar, who will coordinate across agencies, bring a scientific, data-driven approach to the role, and deliver on Mayor Adams' vision to finally control our rat population. It will take each and every New Yorker working together to create the rat free New York City we all want, and Kathy is the right person to lead us forward."

"Every New Yorker – regardless of their zip code, income level, or any defining factor – deserves to live in a city free from rats," said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. "I'm thrilled to have Kathy Corradi as the city's first ever rat czar, who with a background in science and expertise in rodent mitigation, will help deliver an equitable quality of life experience for all New Yorkers. Through Kathy's leadership and each and every New Yorker playing their own part, we can write a new chapter in our city on cleanliness and ending the rat crisis."

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, we welcome Kathy to the war on rats," said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. "She will lead a team of experts with focus and energy, every day diligently depriving rats of food, water, and shelter. And the rest will be history!"

"No person or family should have to deal with rats in their home, in any significant way in their neighborhood, or elsewhere across the city," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. "I am excited to continue the work of this interagency effort and welcome Kathy Corradi on board to tackle what is a serious quality of life issue affecting many communities across the city."

"Rat mitigation is more than a quality-of-life issue for New Yorkers," said Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation Kathleen Corradi. "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. 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. I'm honored to lead this work, grateful to Mayor Adams for this opportunity, and look forward to sending the rats packing."

As the citywide director of rodent mitigation, Corradi will lead and implement a unified strategy to reduce rats in neighborhoods across New York's five boroughs, with a focus on innovative ways to cut off rats' food sources, as well as through testing and deploying new technologies to detect and exterminate rat populations. Corradi will play a vital role in developing and executing the city's rat mitigation efforts, harnessing both the expertise and operational capacity of several city agencies including the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the New York City Department of Education (DOE), the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), in addition to different private sector partners.

Harlem Rat Mitigation Zone

As part of today's announcement, Mayor Adams also announced four city agencies will invest $3.5 million starting in FY23 to launch the Harlem Rat Mitigation Zone – an accelerated rat reduction plan covering Community Boards, 9, 10, and 11, and which includes 28 NYCHA properties, 73 NYC Parks locations, nearly 70 DOE schools, and over 10,000 private properties. DOHMH, NYC Parks, NYCHA, and DOE will receive this funding to accelerate critical rat mitigation work in Harlem and to test new and emerging technologies to fight rats, including:

  • 19 full-time staff and 14 seasonal staff to inspect, exterminate, and maintain or clean public spaces to prevent "mischiefs" of rats.
  • New equipment, like tilt trucks, to better contain and manage waste and extermination supplies, such as bait, traps, sensors, fumigation machines (including Burrow RX and CO2 machines); Rat Ice; and exclusion methods, like wire lathe around structural rat burrows and landscaper fabric designed to keep pests out.
  • Eight new "Rat Slabs" at NYCHA Douglass Houses and Johnson Houses, a rat mitigation tool to harden earthen floors and prevent rat burrowing.

As part of this work in Harlem, private properties will be inspected twice annually for rat-related violations, and issued violations accordingly. City locations will be inspected monthly. The city will also offer Harlem-specific rat academies in Community Boards 9, 10, and 11 in the coming months. New Yorkers can learn more about how to prevent rats at their properties at Rat Academies hosted by DOHMH. The best way for New Yorkers to prevent rats is to adhere to the following common-sense tips:

  • Keep homes clean and secure trash:
    • Store trash in containers and follow DSNY's new trash set-out times to reduce the time that trash sits out;
    • Do not feed wildlife; and
    • Pick up after dogs.
  • Destroy potential rat homes:
    • Seal cracks or holes around buildings, sidewalks, and under doors;
    • Keep green spaces around a property clean and maintained; and
    • Cover or destroy earthen rat burrows (also known as rat holes.)
A map of Harlem with a highligthed zone that shows the Rat Mitigation Zone, which in cludes DOE Schools, NYCHA Property and NYC Parks
The newly established Harlem Rat Mitigation Zone.

Rodent Control Gift

The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City also recently received a generous donation of over 1,000 Tomcat rodent control products, including 100 bait stations, 1,000 rat snap traps, and refillable bait for use in NYCHA, NYC Parks, and DOE gardens for use.

"We appreciate the opportunity to support New York City's mitigation efforts," said Jodi Lee, vice president of controls, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, which owns Tomcat. "Rodent control starts with preventive measures, such as removing access to water and food sources, and includes proven rodent control products for challenging settings. Tomcat's solutions are an effective tool in the fight to stem rodent infestations."

Today's announcement builds on historic investments in rat mitigation and cleanliness that the Adams administration has made, including the launch of 'Get Stuff Clean,' that invested $14.5 million to clean neglected spaces, ending New York City's '5 o'clock shadow' by drastically reducing the hours that black trash bags sit on the curb, and implementing the nation's largest curbside composting program citywide.

About Kathleen Corradi

Kathleen Corradi brings over a decade of community engagement, program development, and facilities operations to the Adams administration at the first-ever citywide director of rodent mitigation. Spearheading sustainability, sanitation, rodent and pest mitigation, and space utilization projects, Corradi has dedicated her career to developing effective systems in service of a more equitable and resilient New York City.

Corradi began her career as an elementary teacher in Central Brooklyn and program lead at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. At the DOE's Office of Sustainability, Corradi developed New York City's Zero Waste Schools program, the nation's largest zero waste program that reached over 350,000 students, and led the agency's rodent reduction efforts, coordinating and implementing pest mitigation plans across nearly 120 public schools that led to 70 percent compliance on the Neighborhood Rodent Reduction taskforce. Most recently she has served as DOE's Queens Director of Space Planning, managing $500 million in capital development funds to optimize New York City public schools' building utilization and ensure fair distribution of resources.

Corradi earned Bachelor of Science in Biology from Eckerd College, and a Master of Science in Urban Sustainability from The City College of New York.

Corradi will report to Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack, and will work closely with Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom.
"Today marks a new era in our battle against the scourge of rats in New York City," said DOE Chancellor David C. Banks. "With the hiring of our first citywide director of rodent mitigation, we are taking a significant step forward in protecting the health and safety of our students both at home and at school. I am confident that under the leadership of the new rat czar, we will make great strides in controlling the rat population and creating a cleaner, more livable city for future generations of New Yorkers."

"Rats are the sworn enemies of public health," said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. "DOHMH is proud to have a leading role in the city's pest-fighting partnership, and we are confident that, together, we will drive these detested rodents from the five boroughs and take back our city. We are especially excited to have the rat czar's leadership, and we welcome her to the frontlines of this critical battle for health and quality of life for all New Yorkers."

"While we respect all creatures that call New York City home, managing the rodent population is vital to maintaining a healthy urban ecosystem," said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. "Kathy's appointment as rat czar shouts, rather than squeaks, our city's commitment to addressing this issue thoughtfully and effectively, and I look forward to working with her and our partner agencies to keep our city greenspaces safe and sanitary for all New Yorkers."

"Improving our ability to substantially reduce the presence of pests, including rats, is not only a key component of our agreement with HUD, but also a critical part of enhancing conditions and quality of life for NYCHA residents," said NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt. "The transformative work that has been underway at NYCHA goes hand-in-hand with these larger citywide mitigation efforts, as we all come together to combat rodent issues across the five boroughs."

"Our commercial corridors should be thriving with businesses and shoppers, not rats," said SBS Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. "Through our work on the Interagency Rat Task Force, and educating local businesses and community organizations about rat mitigation, SBS remains committed to tackling this quality-of-life and health issue. We look forward to working closely with Kathy."

"Congratulations to Kathy Corradi on this historic appointment," said Mayor's Office of Operations Director Dan Steinberg. "It's a trademark of the Adams administration to attack our city's most intractable problems with new ideas, technology, and talent. The city's rat reduction agenda is bolder and more creative than ever thanks to the interdisciplinary work of the Rat Reduction Task Force. We're thrilled to now have a dynamic leader at City Hall to drive this work into the future."

"Mayor Adams has made it clear that the rats don't run this city, we do," said DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch. "I'm looking forward to working with Kathy to send these pests packing!"

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