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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

More Than 14,000 Chicagoans Waiting For Garbage Cans As City Tackles Backlog

The city is trying to get rid of the backlog, but families have had to wait months for a new garbage can.

The city is months behind on fulfilling residents' requests for new garbage carts. [Provided by Danny Cozzi]
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DOWNTOWN — Need a new garbage can? Get in line.

City residents have been left waiting for new garbage carts for months as the city faces a 14,000-can backlog.

The black garbage carts are provided for free by the city to homes and small apartment buildings, and they’re designed to combat pests like rats in city alleys.

The backlog of requests for new carts actually started in 2017, and the city increased its budget for the carts by 50 percent to $1.5 million to address the issue, according to the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

Though the department has delivered more than 21,000 carts in the first half of 2018, a 33 percent increase from the same period last year, the backlog has continued due to requests for new cans from residents.

Chicagoans can ask for carts if their cart has been stolen, damaged or if they need more cans to contain their trash. Requests are fulfilled on a first come, first served basis.

Allison Beaulieu-Cholke, of Woodlawn, has been waiting for a new cart since April 7. Her family’s garbage cart vanished a few days before then. When she couldn’t find it, she and her husband, Sam Cholke, called 311 to request a new cart. They were told they’d get a cart, Beaulieu-Cholke said, but none showed up.

They called 311 again on April 24 when they still had no can, Beaulieu-Cholke said, and a day later they asked the alderman’s office for help. They were promised a temporary can, but that never arrived, Beaulieu-Cholke said.

They tried 311 and the alderman’s office again on May 23, but they were told there were no carts left to give the family, Beaulieu-Cholke said.

In the meantime, the family asked a neighbor if they could use the neighbor’s can. But that feels “kind of rude,” Beaulieu-Cholke said, especially because they have to use the neighbor’s garbage can for waste from their dog and baby.

“I feel really bad about it,” Beaulieu-Cholke said. “It’s not like a neighborly thing to do, is to put your garbage in somebody else’s garbage can is kind of silly, but we want to be responsible citizens. I don’t like putting garbage in someone else’s garbage.”

The family was still waiting for a replacement cart as of Sunday night.

“The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation is working to quickly and efficiently eliminate the city’s black garbage cart backlog,” according to Streets and Sanitation. “Crews also continue to refurbish carts where possible as a quick and cost-effective solution for damaged carts.”

Residents should expect their requests to be filled in about eight weeks, according to Streets and Sanitation. Requests for a new cart can be submitted by calling 311, which keeps a log of requests online. The garbage carts are free for single-family homes and apartments with up to four units.

Streets and Sanitation collects garbage from more than 600,000 households throughout the city. The city supplies more than 1.5 million garbage carts to homes throughout the city, according to the Streets and Sanitation website.