NEW YORK -- Parts of New York City are getting some much needed help cleaning up trash.
A few bags at a time, sanitation crews are trying to put a dent in what residents say is a sweeping garbage problem on the Upper East Side, CBS2's Nick Caloway reported Friday.
"You go to some corners and it's like the Sanitation Department doesn't exist. Piles of clothes and food. It's just awful," said Yvonne Durant.
"That makes a terrible mess. And then you attract vermin like rats and other rodents," said Ellen Mausner.
City Council Member Julie Menin said overflowing trash bins and rats are top complaints in her East Side district.
"It's unacceptable when you walk around all across New York City that trash is overflowing from litter baskets. It's being thrown into the street. This is a real quality of life issue, and it's a health issue as well because of the abundance of rats that are all over New York City," said Menin.
Menin joined DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch to announce an initiative to help clean up the neighborhood, saying $235,000 from the city budget will go to:
- Increasing litter basket picking in the neighborhood to four times a day, three days a week
- More frequent sidewalk cleaning
- More funding for rat mitigation
"People are going to see a daily difference in their quality of life. This is the most, the commissioner and I were talking before, this is the most garbage pickup this district has ever, ever, ever seen in terms of litter baskets," said Menin.
What about the rest of the city? Garbage isn't just piling up on the Upper East Side. Tisch pointed to a citywide increase in litter pickup service back in July, which she said is working.
"These investments have already begun to make a dent. I mean the city is not as clean as we need or want it to be. But we're seeing in some of the initial data since July 1st citywide, improvement in, for example, litter basket complaints being down 60 percent. Not just for one neighborhood, from every neighborhood," said Tisch.
The extra money used to clean up garbage on the East Side comes from a City Council fund meant for litter and graffiti removal that each council member can tap into.
Meanwhile, former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera is doing his part to help strike out the city's trash problem.
He's teaming up with SOMOS Community Care in a multilingual anti-litter PSA called "Basket In."
The goal is to help clean up the city by getting New Yorkers to throw their trash in waste baskets instead of on the ground.
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