This is what Boston is doing about bed bugs:
Apparently there’s a division of the Boston Housing Dept. Inspectional Services (ISD) that inspects housing for bed bugs. Click the following link to load a PDF of their Bed Bug Advisory Sheet, which says briefly what bed bugs are, and notes that landlords are responsible for eradicating the problem in Boston.
Here’s what the Boston ISD do:
To effectively address bed bug infestations in Boston, ISD endeavors to educate inspectors, property managers, exterminators and the general public on the nature of bed bugs, bed bug prevention and the proper extermination of bed bugs. We endeavor to assist owners, tenants, and pest control operators in exterminating for bed bugs by attending extermination visits, assisting with education & preparation and by sharing our knowledge and experience on best practices.
Bed Bug Inspection Orders:
- We require written extermination reports, within 14 days of a notice of violation, and prior to closing a case. Although Bed bug infestations do not get resolved quickly, we endeavor to work with owners who have contracted licensed Pest Control Operators, who have treatments programs in place, and who provide written documentation on the treatment programs.
- Our Standard bed bug notice of violation also requires that owners inspect all units in the dwelling, and they must treat all horizontally and vertically adjacent units to the infested unit(s).
Let me repeat: the laws applicable in Boston require landlords to treat all horizontally and vertically adjacent units, and to inspect every unit in the building. Are you listening, New York?
In Boston, they’re actually proactive about bed bugs:
Education & Outreach: Boston ISD has conducted various outreach efforts over the years which:
- Targets areas with a concentration of infestations.
- Educates and offers inspections to those residing in the targeted area.
- Engages & educates the local community leaders and activists.
- Utilizes the media attention to educate and raise awareness of residents in all parts of Boston.
If a landlord is notified by tenants about bed bugs, and does not eliminate them, tenants should call the Housing Inspection Division at (617) 635-5322.
The city has a Bed Bug Advisory PDF about bed bugs in rental housing. It explains the laws, and also gives advice about dismantling or destroying infested furniture before discarding it. It says that anyone living in rental housing in Boston that is infested with bed bugs should contact their landlord, and follow up with the Boston ISD (at the number above) if the landlord does not solve the problem.
Tha Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation also has its own fact sheets on bed bugs in English, Portuguese, and Spanish (here). The fact sheet says that if your Boston landlord does not respond to your request for extermination of bed bugs, you can call the city Housing ISD as above or the Boston Public Health Commission at 617-534-2865; you can even make an anonymous tip about bed bugs to the city via the 24-hour city hotline at 617-961-3297.
The Allston Brighton CDC Bedbug Eradication Initiative even offers monetary assistance with extermination (the money, by the way, came from state funds and a private corporation):
The Allston Brighton Bedbug Eradication Initiative provides education and assistance to Allston Brighton tenants and property owners who have been affected by bedbug infestations.
Extermination Incentives For Property Owners and Homeowners
Property owners who are treating units in Allston Brighton can receive up to $200 for each unit. Homeowners in Allston Brighton also qualify for this assistance. To qualify, you must provide the following documentation:
- Proof of ownership.
- Address and unit number of each Allston Brighton unit being treated. Only apartments in Allston Brighton are eligible for these funds.
- An Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPM) for every unit. Bedbugs are difficult to treat and the pesticides used are toxic. An IPM is necessary for effective treatment.
- Detailed prevention plan for every unit. Describes how you will prevent another outbreak from happening
Bedbugs Eradication Initiative
Allston Brighton CDC
320 Washington St., 3rd floor.
Brighton, MA 02135
This is a government responsibility, in my opinion, but since city government is slow to act, perhaps NYC also needs a community organization like the ABCDC to take the lead on this.
What I could not find anywhere on the net was information about those Boston Bed Bug Warning stickers (as per our banner photo). I found this one article about the Allston Brighton CDC (again) saying 20 people had gone around on moving day (Sept. 1) in 2004, the busiest day for moving in Boston, and put the stickers on discarded furniture. Is this the only time those stickers were used? I think they’re wonderful and the city should be giving them out and requiring their use on all discarded furniture.
The City of Boston is doing only so much, and obviously needs to do more. Bed bugs could be eradicated again and local governments can be a part of making this happen. But compared to what’s happening in NYC, Boston is already doing a lot. Social service agencies in NYC and elsewhere could also learn a thing or two from those folks at Allston Brighton CDC. I just wish they had more money. Perhaps hotel chains might consider helping non-profits who want to work on this issue; after all, they’re helping to spread bed bugs!
Okay, so that’s Boston.
Here’s what New York City is doing about bed bugs:
Not so much, huh? There was some talk about banning the sale of used mattresses (yawn). We’re way past that now. NYC has a housing dept. but they don’t really have their act together about treating bed bug infestations as a separate housing issue from any other pest problems. And they should, as should the health dept.
Boston, unlike New York City, has taken the bed bug threat seriously as something that needs to be halted. In August 2006, the Boston Globe reported that Boston had had 351 “official” bed bug cases (i.e. known to the ISD) since 2002. 351 in four years. And Boston has taken much more action to prevent their spread, recently, than NYC, even though 311 calls to report bed bugs in NYC were over 1195 in 12 months between 2005-2006. Even accounting for the population differences, 351 official cases in 4 years is not much compared to what we’re getting in NYC now. It’s time for NYC to take drastic action on bed bugs.
Update (1/10/2007): I contacted the folks at the Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation. Ava Chan gave me permission to post her reply below:
We added a link to your blog from our bedbugs page. Thank you for mentioning Allston Brighton CDC and our efforts.
About the red stickers: s Inspectional Services Dept. generated a whole bunch of them, and we also ordered some similar ones — they resemble parking tickets and are eye-catching. On our version, we include the City of s 24 hour hotline, and also Allston Brighton CDC’s contact information. We worked with volunteers on the Sept. 1 Moving Day effort in 2004, 2005, and 2006. At last year’s Moving Day, we noticed that property owners and management companies were much more vigilant about taking care of discarded furniture and cleaning up as people moved out — good news! They had dumpsters available for their tenants in the days before and after Sept. 1.
The Greater Task Force that Juan mentions includes communities adjacent to , including members of the Cambridge Inspectional Services Dept. It’s still an uphill battle — while the City of has acknowledged the seriousness of bedbugs infestations, many of the neighboring towns still believe that bedbugs haven’t spread to them, even though the get complaints from their residents, even though they are very close to within 10 miles of Boston’s downtown. On the other hand, we know that bedbug control is now a popular topic at many trade association meetings of pest control operators, health inspectors, etc.
It’s a long battle–thanks for your work.
Ava Chan, Community Organizer
Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation