“One of the most frequent complaints I hear from people all over the city is about the prevalence of rats and rodents in their neighborhoods, in the subway, in public spaces and elsewhere. For far too long, the city has not done enough to stop the spread of rodents in the five boroughs. Rodents carry disease, make people chronically sick and can cause death, as we have seen with this current tragedy.

“It is unfathomable to me that in this day and age, in one of the most expensive cities in the world and at our most technologically advanced point as a civilization, the city cannot mitigate the rat problem nor does it have good ideas to do so. 750 Grand Concourse has long been regarded as one of the worst buildings in the city, with nearly 1,500 complaints of all kinds, including rodents, with many unresolved. The city knows this, and has done nothing to help the tenants alleviate this issue, not only in this building but in communities across the five boroughs. This public health scourge requires a serious, comprehensive and immediate solution.

“The fact that the city has touted that this building is in the Pest Control Reservoir Area does little to alleviate the fears of those that have been forced to deal with this rodent condition.  The program, which sought to increase enforcement and efforts to mitigate the growing population of rats in the area, has not been effective.

“While the city reports that this is a rare occurrence, one death is too many when it comes to the lack of addressing basic maintenance issues.  Extermination is part of the responsibility of all landlords, commercial or residential. Added to that is the problem of illegal conversions that occur in this economy, where people are being taken advantage of and as a result are fearful in reporting conditions to the city.  Substandard housing is a public health issue, it perpetuates illness and unsafe practices that impact the lives of our residents. Nonetheless, when it comes to this property, the city admits that it has been aware of the many violations that exist and yet, here we are.

“We must also do more to protect tenants in illegal units. Unscrupulous landlords will often fail to maintain such units and provide tenants with necessary services, and will use the specter of eviction and homelessness to keep tenants from reporting serious issues in their apartments. The city must offer protections to all tenants from potential retaliation and homelessness in such situations. People should not be forced to live in poor conditions because they fear their situation could become even worse if they dare to speak up about it,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.