According to Channel 12 WKRC in Cincinnati (doesn’t Howard Hesseman work there?), residents at the Hillrise Apartment building, which is owned by Cincinnati Business & Professional Women’s Retirement Living Incorporated, are suffering from various issues including bed bugs.
Calvin Merritt’s problems at Hillrise Apartments are pretty simple.
“Mostly bugs, roaches and all that…”
The “all that” is bed bugs. Dead ones were easy to find under Calvin’s mattress, and piles of them behind the bed. When exterminators come in to spray here, their work’s easy to see, pesticide stains run down Calvin’s walls. Calvin pays 313 dollars a month for this one bedroom…what little furniture he had was mostly pitched, because it was infested.
Calvin Merritt, Resident: “I done lost everything got here, my couch, my other chairs, all the stuff I had was new, I had to get rid of all of that.”
At the other end of the hall, Jeanette Jessie doesn’t have any bedbugs, but she worries about them just the same.
Jeanette Jessie, Resident: “They just spread them from one end of the building to the other, this is crazy, get this place cleaned up, spray it at one time and get rid of this mess.”
It sounds a bit like the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA in Washington DC, Halcyon House in Denver, and Warren Towers in East Moline, Illinois. Elderly people, disabled people, and anyone in low-income housing is being dealt a raw deal when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs. Let’s face it, bed bugs are expensive to treat. They’re also a rather sudden problem no one was expecting and no one has budgeted for.
Bed bugs are difficult to treat, too. Traditional treatments require multiple pest control visits at short intervals. Residents must prepare for treatment, which can be a lengthy process and costly too (especially for those on a fixed income).
However, make no mistake: non-aggressive treatment (treating only some of the infested units, treating at too-long intervals, or not coming as many times as needed), waiting for tenants who might be unaware they have bed bugs to report them, and not providing assistance with preparation costs and physical labor–all of these reactions from landlords and housing managers mean that bed bugs will be around longer, spread into more units, and cost much more to get rid of.
It just does not make sense on any practical level to not be aggressive, thorough, and quick to treat bed bugs in a building you are responsible for. It is simply a display of ignorance about the nature of this beast.
We can’t entirely blame landlords for this ignorance; none of us were expecting bed bugs. But we need to educate the public about the signs of bed bugs, and we need to educate professionals in all walks of life (from those who provide housing, to hospitality services, to health care, education, and on and on) about the need for a bed bug protocol which includes both proactive searching for signs of bed bugs, and swift reactions to any bed bug signs or sightings.
Too many people seem to be hoping they’ll just go away. Good luck with that. In the meantime:
Channel 12 reports,
Officials from the Cincinnati Health Department tell us they’ll soon be taking a closer look at conditions in the apartments.
I love the Cincinnati Health Department. But you knew that.