Washington YWCA infested with bed bugs: more elderly, low-income residents being left to itch

by nobugsonme on June 28, 2007 · 58 comments

in activism, bed bugs, bed bugs and the elderly, bed bugs in low-income housing, washington DC

Omar Fekeiki reported in the Washington Post yesterday that the historic 117-room Phillis Wheatley YWCA at 901 Rhode Island Ave. NW in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington DC is infested with bed bugs, among other problems. (It’s not affiliated with the national YWCA.) The ladies who live there are now withholding rent.

Protesting residents who picketed Tuesday were all elderly women. So it’s another case of elderly, low-income tenants having to put up with bed bugs. And they’re stuck in those rooms all the time, since their building lobby, a former hangout, has lately been used as an office storage area.

Jennifer Berger, a lawyer with AARP, is trying to help the residents improve their living standards.

“The management is completely unresponsive to the needs of the most vulnerable residents in D.C.,” she said. “The conditions in the building are exacerbating the physical conditions of the tenants.”

Local activist Alex Padro had the right idea:

Padro said, “I’m confident if we get the [YWCA] board to meet in one of the bug-infested rooms, they’ll get the inspection team fast.”

1 Bugalina June 28, 2007 at 11:13 am

Tragic situation…..When “fighting” our infestation I lost almost 15 pounds. The physical efforts necessary to fight an infestation are huge. Lifting mattresses, boxsprings, dissassembling bedframes. turning over sofas and chairs; packing, bagging, constant laundry…These are laborious tasks that cannot be achieved by the elderly or disabled. These “infested” people should march INTO the local politicians offices….with signs that read…We may be carrying bed bugs on us…….we need immediate help…so will you if the bugs crawl from us to you…

2 parakeets June 28, 2007 at 11:20 am

I agree with the last quote. If the management officers had to live or work in the Y, you can imagine how fast they’d have the building treated. I think judges should assign these uncaring people who treat elderly in such despicable fashion to live two weeks 24/7 “house arrest” in the same facilities that the elderly people live.

There is something about bedbugs that reminds me of Hurricane Katrina. There are rampant class prejudices showing up in the bedbug issue and though the wealthy are affected by bedbugs, too, they either live in single family homes which are frequently less likely to have bedbugs and easier to treat than multi-unit buildings with high turn-over, or they have the money for repeated treatments.

3 Social Service Supporter June 29, 2007 at 10:12 am

Where is the quote from the YWCA of Washington in this story? My guess is that if interviewed they would tell us that they have been asked to provide more and more for the past few years with ever shrinking resources for repairs and everyday needs. Social servants are being asked to do the impossible. They may simply not have the needed financial resources to replace multiple mattresses, etc. and are no doubt as frustrated as the residents of the facility are.

I run a program in another state which drives 150 miles every day to deliver services to the elderly. We have not had any increase in funds, but think of how the cost of gas has increased. We are expected to just keep on keeping on, but how long can we do so?

How about sending this YWCA a contribution–that would be a pro-active move and would actually help the people in question.

4 nobugsonme June 29, 2007 at 10:47 am

Social Service Supporter,

Thanks for your comment. I agree 100% that programs which serve the elderly and others in need should be fully funded. I agree with Parakeets about the way in which this has become a class issue.

I don’t think it’s fair to say, however, that the management are likely “as frustrated” as the women spending all day and all night in a small room full of bed bugs.

Sadly, I think a lot of the problem, with bed bugs anyway, is that facility directors do not know how to handle bed bugs (for example, some do not know that replacing mattresses is not necessarily the way to go). Solutions and preventive measures employed early on are cheap. Ignoring tenants’ complaints until everyone is suffering badly is expensive. So the first line of defense, in my opinion, is education of the people managing the place and the tenants, and simple preventive and maintenance measures before a full-blown infestation occurs.

5 hopelessnomo June 29, 2007 at 10:56 am

You are absolutely right, Supporter. The problem is complex and larger than us. A contribution, like you suggest, would help. However, meeting the needs of the sick and elderly poor should not be a matter of private charity. To expect private charity to cover all the bases just deepens inequality and injustice. Surely you can see that.

6 sharon rohner July 18, 2007 at 1:46 pm

I am a new tennat (5 1/2 mos.) at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA in DC and this has been an ongoing problem for years and DCRA, HUD, DOH have ignored are requests for help. Seniors still sleeping on the floor and thanks to my family I’m sleeping else where until management bags the building and fumigates. 15 air conditioners out, mildew mold all over the building, water breaks all over the building continually, broken toilets, sinks etc. never fixed in a timely manner for years, I could go on…There has been abuse from office staff as well. Seniors and Disabled are at risk continuely for heart attacks, relapses from the recover plan and constantly being re-traumatized..

7 nobugsonme July 18, 2007 at 6:32 pm

Thanks for your comment.
These really are appalling conditions, and I think it’s shameful the government and social service agencies have not helped.

8 nyjammin July 19, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Is this the same state that the White House is in??? Where the President of the good ‘ol US of A is?? RIDICULOUS!!!

9 sharon rohner August 16, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Yes, it is Washington, DC what are we doing in other countries when we can’t even help those in our own backyard. Today I found out DCRA Robert Gary passed inspection on the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA at 901 Rhode Island Ave NW even though the same conditions exist and only cosmetic (for appearance sake) changes were made. There is a building wide infestation and sleep deprivation prevails and impedes the recovery process for these tenants, disabled and seniors. God help us because I’ve informed the President, Mayor, Hillary Clinton, City Council that someone has DCRA in their back pocket? There are holes in the ceiling and floors, mildew\mold, leaks in the roof, still bedbug infestation and winter is coming soon and air conditiners\heating units still not working. We will continue to protest! Recently in Streetsense of DC a man wrote he had to leave the homeless shelter because it was bedbug infested. Wonder why so many people are homeless and it’s looking better and better outside instead of in the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA.

10 hopelessnomo August 17, 2007 at 10:33 am

Hi Sharon,

I’m very sorry for this situation. I know it must be difficult but persisting with complaints to the city agencies responsible and documenting the continued infestation must be the only course. I guess the inspector found no visible bugs?

11 sharon rohner August 17, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Yes they did find visible bugs, as well as the exterminator for the management company found bugs and while an AARP Social Worker was visiting us a bug bed walk right past her foot. We killed it and went to the front desk and asked for a Maintenance Service Request to exterminate the building in its entirety even though they did a partial fumigation days ago. This building is so infested that you just wait and eventually they come out right infront of us.

If you cannot maintain your building, sell it to someone who can. Don’t rent to unsuspecting new renters like myself when you know your building is infested.

12 sharon rohner August 17, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Are you aware we have no law on the books for bedbug infestation as a Health Hazard? Did you know that bedbug eggs can stick to your clothes and therefore are easily transmitted. Joe Martin at the Mayors office said back in March, 2007 that he and the Mayor were going to address this issue of no law on the books. I have not heard a thing since then and the Mayor’s office is aware the DCRA Robert Gary passed this building for inspection even though as I post this on the blog I have taken yet another picture of a leak in the ceiling. Water leaks have been prevalent all over the building ergo….mildew\mold and the historic side still needs to be rewired which the YWCA received grants to take care of the rewiring. What, we wait till there is a fire? What happened to all the grant money rec’d since 2000 and every year thereafter to improve the quality of living of the women at the YWCA? This statement was taken out of the actual grant language….

13 nobugsonme August 17, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Thanks for your comments. It certainly sounds like the quality of life suffered by the women of the Phillis Wheatley YWCA has only been going downhill during that time.

It seems to my amateur mind that any pest infestation–even a pest which experts claim do not transmit disease–can become a health hazard (based on the degree of infestation).

Luckily, in most places, laws surrounding inhabitability mean housing has to (by law) be kept pest free. These laws mean landlords in most localities need to eliminate bed bugs. I am shocked that the YWCA is not covered by any laws. This is absurd.

14 sharon rohner August 17, 2007 at 11:11 pm

DCRA Robert Gary passed the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA inspection a week ago ergo…no law according to the Mayor’s office on the bedbug issue. However, HUD holds the mortgage at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA and holds the Management Company and Board of Directors responsible for Tenants Rights to live in a clean and safe building. So lets see if HUD renews its contract with the YWCA in September?

15 nobugsonme August 18, 2007 at 12:40 am

We do reference local laws in DC as cited by a local newspaper’s real estate column in our “Who pays for treatment” FAQ. However, I have a hunch that laws covering multiple-family dwellings may not cover the YWCA, which may be classed in another way.
Sorry I don’t know more. If someone is a real estate lawyer in DC, they may be able to help.

16 Sharon August 25, 2007 at 11:40 pm

We recently had a pest control expert state that if we got new beds incased in plastic the bedbugs would not be able to get inside the box springs or mattresses. We requested management take all the infested beds out and replace them. Up untill this time their argument has been the new beds would become infested also and we remain sleeping on the floor except for those who could buy their own beds. Shame on the PWYWCA for not giving us new beds incased in plastic, yet they continue to rent rooms to new people giving them new beds in plastics and leaving the rest of us to suffer sleeping on the floor. We think they have taken this approach to punish us for protesting. What other reason could someone have for letting us suffer like this?

17 nobugsonme August 26, 2007 at 1:06 am

Mattresses should be encased or sealed in the way you describe. I am sorry your landlord is not providing this, since they provide the beds.
That said, if there are bed bugs there, they will remain even if beds are sealed–they can live in cracks, under floorboards, in walls, under furniture. So more needs to be done on top of the encasements.

18 Sharon August 26, 2007 at 11:24 am

Thank you for your response and yes, more needs to be done. I was told by an expert that the building will hace to be incased with a plastic bag and fumigated for days to clean it up its so badly infested. But what I don’t understand is why they continue to rent to new womem when we have this health problem?

19 Sharon August 26, 2007 at 1:19 pm

We recently received a memo from office staff for late fees on our rent when indeed we were not late. My attorney from AARP sent a letter to the office staff explain their accounting errors to which they conceded. After talking with other elderly women they told me they just paid the fees out of fear. I tried to explain to them it was an accounting problem at the office and not their fault. They said they were not going to make a fuss about it. Will the office staff reimburse these vulnerable women they took money from falsely? See a part of an article uncovering the continuing accounting problems at the YWCA:

(Sharon, I have to delete this, but if you post a link to where it is online, I will happily link to it. Copying and pasting it here without attribution and a link violates other’s copyright.)

20 Sharon August 26, 2007 at 1:24 pm

Just today I read the following serious contaminent information and the Mayors office says there is no law on the books for bedbug infestation:

Tests on the salivary glands and carcass of each bug at intervals up to 31 days after an infective meal showed a positivity rate of 98% (HBsAg) and 17% (HBeAg) for carcasses and 20% (HBsAg) and 0% (HBeAg) for salivary glands. Attempts to detect HBV particles in the salivary glands by electron microscopy failed. Bugs were shown to continue to excrete HBsAg in their faeces up to the 42nd day, and both HBsAg and HBeAg together up to the 30th day. HBsAg particles were only detected by electron microscopy in faeces harvested on the 10th day. The results as a whole indicate that no biological multiplication of virus occurs in C. lectularius but that mechanical transmission from insects to man could occur by: (i) contamination of a person when crushing infective bugs; (ii) contamination from infected faeces; and (iii) infection by bite due to regurgitation or interrupted feeding.

PMID: 6849170 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

21 Sharon August 26, 2007 at 1:30 pm

The fate of hepatitis B virus in the bedbug was investigated to assess this insect’s potential as a vector. Colony-reared Cimex hemipterus (Fabr.) were fed once on blood positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). The insects were sampled at intervals thereafter and tested for HBsAg by radioimmunoassay. HBsAg persisted for up to six weeks in the bedbug’s body after a single HBsAg-positive meal, during which time several further HBsAg-negative blood meals were taken. This result explains the high rates of field infection in bedbugs and further supports the hypothesis that bedbugs may play a role in transmission of hepatitis B virus.

PMID: 501152 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

22 nobugsonme August 26, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Hi Sharon,

I have collected a number of articles on pubmed here:

It is better if you link to your source, in future, rather than pasting in the content, to avoid plagiarism. You can copy and paste the URL into your comment. The URL is the web address of the item.

23 Sharon August 26, 2007 at 5:08 pm

sorry, will not do again

24 Judy Kiernan September 8, 2007 at 11:23 pm

I hope someone will take charge and clean up this bug infested building. It is appalling to let people live in this condition. We treat our pet dogs better than this.
If someone can do something about this, please help ASAP. Thank you.

25 nobugsonme September 8, 2007 at 11:33 pm

Judy, the politicians have to be involved. And to make that happen, you, me, eveyone has to get involved. Tenants and their friends, family, and neighbors (who ought to also be pretty worried) should take action. I have a few ideas.

Read the story on our front page about the current groundswell of activity in Cincinnati, where the public health officials, landlord’s trade group, and others are admitting bed bugs are a problem and banding together in a city Bed Bug Remediation Commission to eliminate or at least control them. As much as I am frustrated that this is not happening everywhere yet, the Cincinnati story gives me much hope. It is worth talking to the news, writing to politicians, and turning up at city-sponsored community meetings.

Do local government officials host meetings where residents can air their concerns on any issue? Turn up with a bunch of YWCA tenants, and a bag of bed bugs or other disgusting evidence. (That’s what a woman in Cincy did, at a town hall meeting, and it worked.)

26 Sharon September 9, 2007 at 11:57 am

To the suggestion: “Turn up with a bunch of YWCA tenants, and a bag of bed bugs or other disgusting evidence. (That’s what a woman in Cincy did, at a town hall meeting, and it worked.)” Not only did we protest on June 26, 2007 but WJLA ABC Channel 7 came in my room and video taped the bedbugs I kept in a sealed air tight container to prove they were here because DOH came out and inspected in March, 2007 and they couldn’t find the bedbugs and the a office staff member and a member of the Board of Directors reported there were no bedbugs at that time in an internal memo sent around at DOH which I have a copy of. The Mayor is aware of this problem and sent a representative out by the name of Joe Martin to inspect our building in March, 2007 and he told me there was no law on the book and that he and they Mayor would be working on getting a law on the books in DC. Joe Martin also came to our protest. They have done partial exterminations in some rooms but we’ve been told they cannot afford to bag the building and put us up somewhere else while they exterminate the entire building. Consequently, we are getting chemical poisoning because they spray so often and in only some rooms. The bugs go hide in the other rooms and come back in. We actually have an elderly lady who had to go to the hospital because of a chemical reation to the bug spray. This is no good for our health and the government agency are aware of whats happening here. We will protest again after the HUD inspection on September 15, 2007 if they do not solve this health problem and could use all the support we can get at the protest. Thank you Judy for responding to this plight of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA at 901 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, Dc. If we can’t fix our probllems in the DC neighborhoods, how can we have faith that we can do some good overseas for other vulnerable populations?

27 nobugsonme September 10, 2007 at 12:34 am

HI Sharon,
I understand that you have protested, had ABC tape bed bugs in your room, and shown bed bugs to DOH staff.

My point is not that you (and I assume others at the YWCA) have not made an effort to sway public opinion. It’s just that public opinion has not been sufficiently swayed to effect change.

So I am suggesting that you continue your efforts, and do so in the sort of public way this woman did. Good luck with your protests, and let us know in advance so we can publicize them. Perhaps local readers can turn out in support?

28 sharon September 10, 2007 at 8:28 am

Thank you so much for your suggestions and we most certainly will use your suggestions if the inspection September 18 does not go well from HUD and the problems are not resolved. I know the Mayor is working on solutions for us. It just that 6 months is too long (not to mention other women say they have had bugs that bite for years) to go without adequate sleep which is the first step for any kind of recovery and for some people in the building being bitten every night curtails the recovery process.

29 Judy Kiernan September 10, 2007 at 1:59 pm

When the inspectors come into the building, give them a bag of bedbugs from every
room to prove that they are there, so that the HUD inspectors cannot deny this.

30 Judy Kiernan September 10, 2007 at 2:09 pm

Maybe all the tenants should pitch in to buy their own bedbug extermination kits
for the whole building. I see a couple of ads on the internet or right under this comment section. Is this possible?

31 laini mataka September 10, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Maybe the tenants should capture a bag of bedbugs, go down to HUD and the Dept. of Housing, and release them. I’m not joking.

32 nobugsonme September 11, 2007 at 12:28 am

I guess my other sense, Sharon and Judy, is that public displays (like bringing a bag of bugs to a town hall meeting) are liable to have more effect as far as garnering sympathy than private meetings with HUD inspectors. Publicity is good.

Judy, My sense is that in a multi-unit building that is thoroughly infested, much more needs to be done than the use of a DIY kit. This level of infestation needs prompt and aggressive and professional attention (and as I understand, so do other problems in the building).

On the other hand, as much as I am sure many can sympathize with the emotions behind laini mataka’s suggestion, I would not encourage anyone to take action that might constitute a criminal act, or which, frankly, would expose others to infestation.

33 Sharon September 11, 2007 at 9:00 am

Thank you for your comments Judy and nobugsonme, we are exposing others to infestation by going out in public with bugs in clothes (the egss are sticky). We are still waiting to hear from Mayor Fenty in Washington, DC passing a law about infestation and the scope of responsibility\liability on the part of the Landlords and Owners of such infested buildings as well as neglect of Tenant Buildings in general.

Of course we would not recommend an unlawful act either. However, the very fact women at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA travel in the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas, as well as other areas outside that scope, should be of great concern because it is possible they could have the same effect on populations as laini mataka suggested. I’m sure laini mataka as a statement of the level of outrage one would automaticly feel when reading about such conditions is expressing how she feels and not a literal conotation.

It is a fact that the infestation extends to clothing, furniture, beddingj, purses and so on. This suggest a high-risk situation when the women move to another building taking along the bugs iwith them f not carefully monitored by themselves, or if a case manager\caregiver is envolved in the process, helping a vulnerable population of women and making sure the bugs are not transmitted to the new location.

The description of infestation by bug specialist states infestation is easily transmitted and was transmitted to the US by suit cases on airplanes from other countries and not from filthy conditions. Some suggest that you can’t entirely get rid of the infestation in a building and tenants will have to cope with a minimal amount of bedbugs! If that is so, then I feel our rent should be reimbursed, all new clothing for the tenants, bedding and any other tangible item that may have become infested be replaced by the Landlord\Owners, as well as paying for the expense of moving all of us out of the contaminated building.

I know for a fact that this building was infested before I moved in 6 months ago and that the Landlord\Owners had already attempted numerous partial exterminations unsuccessfully and they should not be continuing to rent to new people, as they are doing right now, until this serious infestation is clearned up.

I say, get the problem solved here at this building and when a person feels no more bites while wearing their clothes or sleeping in their beds, or sitting in the common areas, then move to another apartment that is better maintained.

34 nobugsonme September 11, 2007 at 9:13 am

You’re right that bed bugs are easily transmitted.

I recommend strongly that people take steps not to spread them to others, as per our FAQs here:

35 Sharon September 11, 2007 at 9:40 am

Thank you nobugsonme and I did read how to be careful. However, some women are from vulnerable populations, which means, they need supervison in their daily care to maintain themselves as well as their rooms.

We have had a lot of Patient and Client dumping going on at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA here in Washington, DC since I moved in 6 months ago without caregivers to help them through their recovery process to my shock and dismay. I have written Mayor Fenty about this problem. This is why we are at high-rish to other populations regarding bug infestation. There are women living here who are sick or disabled and need help in the daily care of showering, washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms. So you see, this is a more complicated problem to solve. We still do not have enought caregivers coming to help these women with these tasks.

36 Sharon September 11, 2007 at 10:39 am

I was sitting in the lounge area downstairs when people came in our building dressed in all white from head to feet. I kid you not, the hair was covered, they are wearing white mask, and their feet are covered. Will let you know why they came in after I go talk with them.

37 Sharon September 11, 2007 at 12:54 pm

The follow-up on white coveralls, white face masks, white cloth covered shoes and body suits:

One of the rooms is so infested with bugs that the office staff put this attire on to enter and exterminate the room. The only problem with that is, yet again the bedbugs (other bugs also) will run to all of our rooms, common areas and I actually saw them in the elevators on both sides where they had drag things out of the infected room into the elevators.

Lord have mercy where are the professionals! No wonder we have to keep spraying, we don’t even clean up properly so the other room that were fumigate are not reinfected.

When is Mayor Fenty going to put a stop to this abuse to the tenants at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA at 901 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC. Please enter a comment or suggestions on how to solve these unique problems for this building do to the unprofessional way this is being handled.

Many women are starting to have allergic reactions on the skin and eyes to all these different toxins.

38 Sharon September 11, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Is this why I havn’t heard from Mayor Fenty’s office after they made a committment to solve our Bedbug Infestion at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA at 901 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC?

Hill Talk dated September 17, 2007 on its website says:

So we have no way to get a hold of government staff via email? No more paper trail for those who are not keeping their committments. Not a shock to me!

Fenty said his decision to kill government e-mails after six months stemmed from technical issues rather than an effort to hide stuff.

The choice really riled up reporter Segraves, who likes to file Freedom of Information Act requests. “You did this with no public hearings, with no input from the public,” Segraves fumed.

The mayor said he could reconsider the issue but didn’t commit to it.

39 Sharon September 11, 2007 at 1:44 pm

correction on date above, it was date September 11, 2007 and here is the website address http://www.voiceofthehill.com/Sherwood-9-5-07.htm

40 Sharon September 11, 2007 at 1:53 pm

The interesting thing about Mayor Fenty quote “Fenty said his decision to kill government e-mails after six months stemmed from technical issues rather than an effort to hide stuff”, is that we get no error message in our inboxes letting us know he isn’t receiving his or anyone elses emails.

Not very ethical on his part.

41 Sharon September 12, 2007 at 9:13 am

I am hoping that Mayor Fenty is reading my emails and thopefully the site where I found this information is wrong:


because we really need this building exterminated the right way (bag the entire building and exterminate) so the chemical poisoning stops. I do not receive a notice in my mail box that says the email address does not exist. On the other hand, I haven’t heard anything back from their office either.

These swollen eyes and rashes on our bodies after they spray (at least 3 times a month) in different parts of the building would stop if the would bag the building and spray. They have said they cannot afford to bag the building and spray everything at once.

42 Maida, Phoenix, AZ September 12, 2007 at 11:47 am

It has come to my attention that the Phillis Wheatley, YWCA, in Washington, DC is infested with bedbugs. The situation is intolerable for the residents. I would hope that in this “Great” country, “The United States of America”, that the problems with this residence would be taken care of immediately. The residents should be able to live in comfortable surroundings.

43 sharon rohner September 12, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Thank you Maida, Arizona so much for taking the time to respond and for your concern. Please encourage your friends to make comments on this site as well. The more people and states we get involved, the better chance we have of getting the problems at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA in Washington, DC resolved.

44 sharon rohner September 12, 2007 at 5:02 pm

I stand corrected on the email issue with Mayor Fenty’s quote. He did not shut down government emails totally, but decided to delete emails after 6 months. Well, what is the reason we havn’t had an email response reponse from the government agencies on the plight of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA bedbug infestation and other serious health issues other than to hear the building passed inspection from the DCRA when the building is in deporable conditions?

45 nobugsonme September 12, 2007 at 5:12 pm

Maida and everyone,

While your comments are certainly welcome here, I would suggest it might have more effect if those with a concern were to contact news outlets and public officials in Washington DC, where pressure could be put on the local authorities and the owners of the building.

46 Sharon September 17, 2007 at 1:49 pm

Tomorrow, Tuesday 9/18/07 HUD will do a yearly REAC inspection. The building is still infested with bugs that bite and as of right now, many women are still sleeping on the floor without beds do to the infestation in their beds when they moved in the building. So Seniors, Disabled and vulnerable women are still being abused by a slum landlord and a borad of directors who are aware of the conditions here. God helps us.

47 Evelyn Morse September 29, 2007 at 9:43 pm

Being the nation’s capital, when are we going to step up to the plate and take full reaponsibility and set the example for the rest of the world. It is truly a shame to have to live in a bug infested building in this day and age. We seem to be going backward. Mayor Fenty I voted for you and feel that you are a good person, I am asking that you not allow these slum landlord to get away with cruelty to thes senior
at the Phyllis Wheatly YWCA, They are putting people on trail for mistreating animals, are not people worth more then animals? if so why arean’t these slum landlords being tried for their mistreatment of thes seniors. I am requesting that this condition for the seniors at Phyllis Wheatly YWCA be taken care odf ASAP, so that these seniors can get back into their beds and get a good nigjht’s rest

48 Sharon September 30, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Thank you Evelyn for advocating for us here at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA. I have put duck tape on every crack in my room and covered by air conditioner with plastic which is also my heating unit for the winter so that the bugs cannot get through the central system into my room. I have no idea how they are going to clean up the bugs in this building. They have done partial spraying for the last six months which sent women to the emergency room because of a reaction to the chemicals being sprayed on the mattress and in the common areas. I personally got burning eyes and a rash on my body from the chemicals that were used. The Tenants Associations asked the owners, the Board of Directors and Vision Management to bag the entrie building with plastic and exterminate that way rather than to continue exposing the disabled and seniors to constant partial sparying every two weeks in only some areas which is making some of us very sick. I pray someone listens to us before winter sets in because I will not be able to use my heat if the building is infested with bugs. The heating unit will blow the bugs into my room. I also like Mayor Fenty and even though I’ve only lived here and in Washington, DC for the last 6 months, I am hoping Mayor Fenty will get this taken care of for the disabled and seionrs in this building.

49 bugged worker October 1, 2007 at 11:23 am

Hey there,
I am a case worker who works with folks who live in buildings with similar situations to what’s going on in PWYWCA. While I work on getting building managers to approach the building-wide problem, are there any suggestions for dealing with individual rooms where vulnerable people with limited ability to care for themselves live? And how do I do this while minimizing my potential to pick up bugs and take them home? I don’t mean to sound horrible, here. I want to do everything I can to help my clients, but they don’t pay me enough to take this stuff home with me.
bugged worker

50 Sharon October 1, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Dear Worker, Go to Home Depot and buy Real Kill Home Insect Control Indoor and Outdoor Insect Killer. The bugs we have in our building (5 different bug types) will be eradicated by this spray. After the person leaves your car spray and press down on the seat and spray in the cracks. When you go home at night make sure you through your clothes in the washer immediately on hot and dry them extra long in the dryer. If you cannot wash your clothes by hand take to the cleaners. Put your clothes in a sealed plastic bag if you can’t clean them right away. Throw the plastic bag away after you wash the clothes. Do not use the plastic bag again because the bugs eggs stick to the plastic.

Because I was so concerned about passing the bugs around, I did not go anywhere except to my families house to get rest. I would immediately take my clothes off and put them in the washer and head for a hot shower.

As far as the individual rooms do the following:

I have put duck tape on every crack or molding in my room and covered my air conditioner with plastic which is also my heating unit for the winter so that the bugs cannot get through the central system into my room (the unit is central air\heating and therefore bugs from any part of the building could get in my room). I also close my window at night so bugs cannot get by crawling on the outside wall from someone elses room into my room) and if you have holes in your screen tape them with scotch tape. I also wash my shoes in hot scalding water in the shower at night and spray them with bug spray before entering my room which I keep by the front door. I was tracking bugs in from the common areas on the bottom of my shoes. Do not sit in the common areas and make sure if you have to use a public bathroom to wipe it off completely before using. I now have slept 3 nights without getting bitten. These precautions work! Hope this is helpful.

51 Sharon October 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Dear Social Worker,

Regarding the individual rooms at the apartment complex:

I forgot, you can make weather stripping for the front door with duck tape. Put it around the entire door including the base by the floor. You fold over a small wedge at the bottom so it won’t stick when opening and closing the door. It will stick a little at first but after a couple of times works ok. Make sure the bottom duck tape on the door is long so you can set something on the edge to keep the bugs from crawling in at night. The bugs are sticking on the duck tape. It works!

52 bugged worker October 1, 2007 at 4:33 pm

Thanks, Sharon,
I’ll give that stuff a try.
Sounds like you’re really going through a lot to deal with these little buggers. I wish you the best in your fight with the bugs and the people who should be helping get rid of the bugs.

53 Sharon October 1, 2007 at 4:39 pm

Your very welcome, and it does work! Hopefully the Mayor is organizing someone to get this building bagged and debugged.

54 nobugsonme October 1, 2007 at 7:25 pm

Bugged Worker,

Approach all pesticide use with caution. This is the product information on the item Sharon suggested:

I can’t comment on that except to say that you might not want to be constantly spraying it in your car as Sharon suggested (an enclosed space). You can do research on the safe use of this substance but I can’t advice except to say the best advice I’ve been given is to use pesticides according to labeling instructions only.

I would suggest something else: get some fresh water diatomaceous earth (DE), which is the safe and effective kind (NOT pool grade DE). You can read about it in the FAQs (see below). You don’t want to be inhaling clouds of it, but it can be put into cracks in your home and maybe the car (the seats might mean you inhale too much, though). It is a mechanical killer and bed bugs that cross it die within 10 days. Putting it around your home would mean that if you accidentally bring one or two home, you don’t start a full infestation.

I also recommend reading our FAQs on how to avoid getting or spreading bed bugs–since the principles they discuss can be applied to a person exposed regularly at work.

This has been more about you and not about your clients. Unfortunately, they need an aggressive course of PCO treatment. Thorough cleaning of bed frames with a contact killer (by the PCO preferably) and encasement of mattresses with sturdy covers (AFTER PCO treatment of mattresses with pesticides) will also be necessary. Their clothing should be washed and dried on hot and kept in sealed, airtight bags. We recommend XL ziplocs for stuff continually being opened.

Some of the useful stuff is found in the “Useful Stuff” page above.
The DE FAQ is under “Treatments”, and the clothing FAQs are under “eliminating bed bugs from clothing…” and the FAQs on not catching or spreading bed bugs are under “Travel” in the FAQs:

Since this is veering away from the topic of this post, if you have further questions, please go to the forums:

55 nobugsonme January 28, 2009 at 7:34 pm

I wonder how things are going over there?

56 nobugsonme December 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

A reader wrote to me today saying she had heard that the bed bug problems at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA are, unfortunately, ongoing.

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