Spring cleaning: Sanitation gets funding boost to help city sparkle again

The city is boosting funding for the Sanitation Department to help clean up the Big Apple as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

It’s time to take out the trash in New York City!

The Sanitation Department, after struggling last year with devastating cuts to resources and this winter’s harsh storms, will be getting a little help in picking up after its city’s residents, said Mayor Bill de Blasio in his morning briefing on March 30.

De Blasio said starting Wednesday, there would be a significant increase in funding for litter basket collection, along with over 100 additional sanitation trucks for waste management, and the restoration of Sunday pickups. 

The mayor delighted in also announcing a new partnership bringing community cleanup vans for organizations and residents that want to do their own cleanups. A big part of the cleanup efforts will be providing these organizations with a “green van” service that has tools, like bags, brooms, and dustpans, on hand for them to use.

“This has been an issue we’ve heard about from community members all over the city, everyone understood we went through a tough, tough time during the pandemic and resources were tight,” said de Blasio. “Now we’re focusing on some of the things community members have talked to us about the most.”  

Hizzoner referred to the “perfect storm” of circumstances during the pandemic that led to the city bearing the overwhelming effects of slashes to the sanitation budget. “We went through a moment unlike anything any of us has experienced in our lives, where all of the underpinnings of society were being stripped simultaneously,” he said.

City Sanitation Commissioner Edward Grayson said that department was “excited” to be back out in force with more resources, and boasted a new program called the Precision Cleaning Initiative.

“These are targeted borough-based teams that will go out to address those quality of life concerns, illegal dumping and other eyesore conditions that we’ve seen as we’ve progressed through the pandemic,” said Grayson. “This new team will help us be even more nimble as we answer the call for recovery for everyone. We’re very excited about spring cleaning.”

Grayson also lent his thanks to community cleanup groups across the Five Boroughs for their critical work in keeping New York City clean.

A bevy of local lawmakers praised the support of the department, including Bronx Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, who has been active in pushing for additional trash pickup in her district.

“We know how the environment impacts not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. When COVID hit, many of our communities were devastated. We were living in uncertain times and many of us understood that life would look differently. In the outer boroughs, especially in the Bronx,” said Joyner. “Many communities looked unrecognizable and many of my community groups, students, friends of parks, dedicated individuals, stepped up and hosted cleanups throughout the neighborhood.”

Joyner said she received numerous complaints and calls about “unbearable” trash build up. Complaints also piled up in City Councilmember Justin Brannan’s southern Brooklyn district.

Brannan — who is currently running for reelection against a Republican challenger — said the absolute need for trash pickup among other basic quality of life services may be the one unifying factor left in American politics these days.

“Basic quality of life services, it definitely took a big hit due to the COVID budget cuts, and these were cuts that every neighborhood felt literally overnight,” said Brannan. “A clean and safe community is truly the foundation for everything else so this is yet another great sign that New York City is coming back strong.”

Brannan added the the city’s Sanitation workers have very “thankless” jobs and said he hopes this funding will make their lives easier.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.