City Inspectors Identify More Neighborhoods With Rat Problems

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Columbus inspectors say they've found evidence of a rat problem in several neighborhoods around the city.(Photo: flickr: Nikon Ranger)
Columbus inspectors say they've found evidence of a rat problem in several neighborhoods around the city.(Photo: flickr: Nikon Ranger)

Rats became quite a problem in Clintonville during the last year. But with a few easy changes, the issue appears to be under control.

City inspectors discovered Clintonville is not the only area with a rodent problem.

Harrison West and South Linden are two more Columbus neighborhoods with evidence of a rat problem. City inspectors recently visited those areas and found a higher than normal “rat rate.”

The CDC notes when more than 2 percent of properties have signs of rodent it’s time to take action.

Columbus Public Health spokesman Jose Rodriguez says of the 300 properties inspected in Harrison West, 5 percent were affected by rats.

“Fortunately, that was mostly concentrated on a couple of blocks. So we are working with the residents to make sure that they can, again, eliminate those sources of food, shelter and water. So that was another successful enterprise with another community group,” he said.

When the city worked with Clintonville residents to help cut back on rats, inspectors discovered 34 percent of examined homes had signs of rats.

“Clearly, that is much higher than we would like to see.”

Composting is popular in Clintonville, and that attributed to part of the problem. But Rodriguez said residents were receptive to making changes that helped reduce the number of rats in the area.

“The good news is about 90 percent of those properties corrected all of the challenges that they had,” Rodriguez said. “So that’s a real success story. So we’re very hopeful that that eliminated that source of food for the rats in the neighborhood will curb the problem.”

But some neighborhoods with a potential rat issue present a tougher challenge than just changing composting habits. The recession resulted in many vacant and blighted homes, especially in lower-income neighborhoods like Linden and Franklinton.

Abandoned homes can be the perfect habitat for rats. Squatters often leave behind garbage that rats can feed off of and the homes provide shelter.
City inspectors soon will visit North Linden and Franklinton to evaluate properties. But they discovered in South Linden 12 percent of assessed properties showed evidence of rats.

George Walker, who chairs the South Linden Commission, acknowledges vacant properties encourage rats. Walker says one way the neighborhood is fighting the problem is with an annual clean-up event.

“We go around to the areas that we can see a whole bunch of blight and stuff, and we pick those up, tires, and everything. And that’s how we keep that control,” Walker said.

But Walker added it also takes educating residents. Lower-income neighborhoods tend to have a higher proportion of renters, and he said it’s important to get them engaged in maintaining the property.

“Someone next door is renting and I’m a homeowner, I go right next door and talk to them, and say, ‘Hey look, I keep my property up like this. How about you make sure you keep your property,’” Walker said. “And what happens is we work together as a community.”

Walker said the recent addition of extra trash cans along area bus stops should help curb rats.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman put $150,000 into his budget for rat control. The money will help hire two more employees.

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