Cincinnati’s ABC9 did a spot on bed bugs Monday, and you can click the link in the top right corner of this page to watch it.
It focuses on two stories: the St. Vincent De Paul Society, a social service agency, reports on the prevalence of bed bugs, how thoroughly they alter peoples’ lives, and how they’re unable to help people get the expensive treatments necessary:
“We actually do home visits to people who need assistance and find people who basically are going into apartments that are empty,” said the Society of St. Vincent DePaul’s executive director, Liz Carter. “It’s because people have bed bugs and they’ve just cleared out their apartment of all their upholstered furniture, sleeping on the floor. They don’t have a couch to sit on.”
The agency can’t afford the $400 to $1000 to professionally exterminate each client’s apartment.
While the reporter opens her story by quoting the local health department’s insistence that “there’s no real need to be concerned” about bed bugs,
it’s clear from Liz Carter’s perspective, people sleeping on their floors is a concern. Just because something does not (yet) spread a physical disease, does not mean people should have to live with it.
The City Health Department has gotten 200 complaints about bed bugs this year. (That tells me there have been many, many more bed bug cases–because we know most people do not call the health department about their bed bugs. Most call their landlord, or their pest control operator, or–gasp!–just try and deal with it themselves.) That’s enough to make Cincinnati take action. Bed bugs have been a topic in city hall, and the city is passing out flyers to alert people to the bed bug epidemic in that city. (They’re not just hiding a flyer on the Department of Health website, as NYC has done–meaning only those looking for bed bug information online come in contact with it).
“What we want to do is try to get the information out to as many citizens and residents as possible about the problem and how to combat it because it is becoming a big problem in many of our neighborhoods,” said council member, Chris Monzel.
The city is planning to kickoff a campaign to educate citizens about bed bugs.
“We’re going to do some training in schools. We’re going to do some flyers and pass out flyers,” said Dale Grigsby from the Cincinnati Health Department.
The health department says not to pick up used furniture off the sidewalk, even if it looks like it is in good condition.
I wish my (New York) city health department would tell people not to do that. Cincinnati is doing something, and I am glad about this–but the report from the St. Vincent folks tells me more needs to be done: funds need to be made available so that everyone can get the professional bed bug treatment needed to eradicate bed bugs from their homes.
Rich, middle-income, or poor: nobody should have to live like this.