7 On Your Side Investigates: NYC streets, parks filling with trash

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New Yorkers are use to bagged trash lining the sidewalks on garbage night, but now, they're dealing with it in pandemic proportions.

"It's just disgusting," Brooklyn resident Amanda Jusino said. "You can see dead rats sometimes."

She walks her kids down Bedford Avenue every day and says the trash-lined street isn't just an eyesore, it's dangerous.

"They literally had wood with nails sticking out that me and the kids' father had to move aside because what if the kids were running and they trip?" she said.

7 On Your Side Investigates found a big increase in people texting and calling their trash complaints to the city's 311 service.


They're complaining not just about dirty sidewalks but bagged trash not getting picked up. Those concerns are up by more than 50 percent compared to the same time period last year.


"They need to just pick it up," Jusino said. "I mean, it's your job."

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The city's sanitation department said the increase is partly due to businesses and people leaving, as they're responsible for cleaning their own sidewalks.

In a statement, the city spokesperson said they "have had some service delays associated with the impact of COVID with regard to staffing availability," but also went on to add most delays are "minor."

Trash complaints are piling up some places more than anywhere else -- city parks.


Data from 311 shows a 175% increase this August compared to last August. When 7 On Your Side reached out to the parks department, a spokesperson said summer staff had been cut by almost half this year. That means there were 1,700 fewer workers out patrolling parks

Those cuts were due to budget cuts as a result of the pandemic.


"It's a quality of life issue," said Rachel Miller-Bradshaw, who lives near Devoe Park in the Bronx. "It's not fair."

She says the parks department is no longer picking up trash on a daily basis, and the problem is overflowing with garbage littering the green space.

The city recently launched what they're calling a "cleanliness campaign" to restore some services to streets and parks.

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"Funding has really been cut, and we're really suffering because of that," Miller-Bradshaw said "And it's quite scary, because with the whole COVID going on, you want your area to be as sanitary as possible."

Meanwhile, some neighborhood leaders are trying to come up with the own solutions.

In the Bronx, with so many people spending time outdoors due to the pandemic, some of their parks have been filled with trash by the end of the weekend.

Volunteers have been picking up trash themselves every Monday, and they're encouraging others to do the same.

"We are not going to let our area get like it was in the 70s and 80s," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said. "To keep it clean to maintain our quality of life."

Data journalist Frank Esposito contributed to this story.

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