Getting rid of rats in South Philly: Residents hope for solutions as officials see the problem

A rat infestation in South Philadelphia made headlines a few weeks ago. City leaders didn’t forget and were out in the neighborhood Friday to listen to residents to find a solution.

Watts resident, BJ Barretta said, "You can see where the rats are chewing through the trash cans."

Barretta is fed up with the rats on Watts Street and who can blame him? "The rats are the symptom. They’re not the problem. The problem has been trash for years."

Trash that businesses on South Broad Street put out back, trash that overflows and attracts the rodents, as the critters crawl everywhere and even get into cars, causing a great deal of destruction.

Another resident, Andy Liberatoscioli, stated, "Any time you look down the street, there was constant activity of rats running back and forth. It didn’t take more than a few seconds to see a rat running down the street."

That’s why neighbors asked the city for help. Councilmember Mark Squilla, along with representatives from the Streets Department and sanitation, came out to listen, then tried to come up with concrete solutions.


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"Work with the individual businesses on what the current trash plan is and then come up with a plan that would make it better, safer, cleaner, so we could then mitigate the problems with the rats and the other rodents attracted by trash not being kept properly," Councilmember Squilla explained.

Residents liked what they heard, but feel a solution should have been found sooner.

Barretta said, "Living among rats, where people get to come home and think and plan where’s there’s no rats in their home is frustrating."

"Yeah, has it taken a bit of time?" Squilla remarked. "Yes, it has and, you know, the businesses get so used to doing this a certain way. And, over the last four to six years, there’s been lack of enforcement, to say the least."

Neighbors do say they feel optimistic help is on the horizon, even if it’s not overnight.

Liberatoscioli continued, "It gives me hope. We had some good ideas of where trash can be moved, so I think this is a step toward a solution."

"So it’s gonna require a little patience on my part, but I don’t want it to fall off people’s radar and I hope something meaningful does happen," Barretta added.