PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Paterson, N.J. has been struggling with quality of life issues and officials say the problems have gotten worse.

Now, there’s a plan to clean up the city, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported Friday.

Call it a sign of the times.

Mayor Andre Sayegh helped hang signs in downtown Paterson warning that panhandling is illegal and reminding residents to put trash in trash cans.

The problems of panhandling, loitering, illegal dumping and littering are not new to Paterson. They’ve only worsened since the coronavirus pandemic started.

That’s a fact not lost on residents.

“You go to Hackensack, you don’t see none of that. What’s allowed over here is not allowed over there,” said Keymon Glover.

So, the city launched a new initiative called Clean Sweep. It created a task force made up of city leaders and residents who vow to step up enforcement of quality of life laws and make the issue a priority for city departments.

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“So, I live in the first ward. I see a lot of littering,” said Tiffany Jacobs. “But, I also see loitering, dumping. We see a little bit of everything.”

Jacobs is on the newly formed task force. She’s hopeful things can get better.

“This is the first task force that I’ve seen actually doing work. We have meetings every week, but we’re actually boots on the ground, trying to get something done,” Jacobs said.

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Cleaning up Paterson is a tall order – there’s no shortage of places to start. Trash littered the sidewalk steps away from where the City Sweep initiative was announced.

Caloway asked the mayor how long is will take for residents to see progress.

“We should do this immediately. Right now. We can lead by example. It’s not just about putting signs [up], but it’s also about declarative action,” said Sayegh.

The signs only go so far, and enforcement alone can’t solve the quality of life problems. City officials are calling on residents to stop littering and report those who break the law.

According to Paterson officials, residents can use the “Paterson Plus” app on their smart devices to report problems in their neighborhoods.

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