Little Village residents complain about rats

CHICAGO The City of Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation said rats are always a concern, but crews have the rodent problem under control.

But, in Little Village, residents say there is a growing rat problem. Maria Gomez, who lives in the 2500-block of Crane Street, has set up rodent traps in her living room, outside her bedroom door, and in her kitchen.

"When I'm sleeping, inside the wall. I scream," said Gomez.

According to the city, the number of complaints about rats are down.

"Rodent numbers are down in 2008, baiting numbers are up or inconsistent but our rodent complaints are down and numbers have come down for the past five years," said Matt Smith, Department Of Streets And Sanitation.

While the city stresses there are options for getting rid of rats, one organization said the community isn't getting the help it needs.

"My neighbor, she has killed over 10 rats within a week. They try to get into the houses. You call, they say they pass it on street and sanitation," said Maria Martinez, Action Now member.

Action Now called for a press conference on Tuesday.

"We found out about 40 minutes before this hastily called press conference that there was a press conference. We basically walked right into an ambush. Our people are hauling in the alleys and doing work and carting away," said Smith.

Alderman Ricardo Munoz, 22 Ward, released a statement: "My office continues to work with neighbors to make sure that the request for city services are complied with by city staff."

The rats take shelter in abandoned buildings, open garbage cans, plastic bags, pet dishes and old cars. City officials said residents should encourage neighbors to clean up their yards, and if that doesn't work, call 311 and ask for a Streets and Sanitation inspector to come out. He or she can enforce the city's sanitation code.

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