COVID-19 forced budget cuts to the Parks Department, summer jobs and many other sectors. One of those was the Graffiti-Free NYC program, which was initially suspended in March and indefinitely in April.
Even amidst the racial turmoil, violence and pandemic taking place, Councilman Mark Gjonaj and local community groups still recognized the need to keep neighborhoods visually appealing.
Under the program, a business owner or resident could call 311 to complain about graffiti but now people are left to fend for themselves.
Joined by Wildcat Service Corp., a local group that aims to improve the community, Gjonaj got rid of graffiti July 20 at 2185 White Plains Rd. and July 21 at 720 Lyding Ave.
“We are saying we cannot forget these quality of life issues,” said Reggie Johnson, chief of staff for Gjonaj.
Johnson said under the graffiti removal program, 14,000 sites were worked on last year.
According to the WSJ, graffiti complaints drastically decreased once COVID-19 arrived. The WSJ said there were “4,324 complaints in December 2019 and 2,036 in January. The numbers lessened as there were 669 complaints in March, 492 in June and through July 16, just 289.”
Johnson said they are doing two more graffiti removals next week. He noted residents and business owners have thanked Gjonaj for doing this.
“People are always appreciative that we care about their day to day lives,” Johnson said.