Remember back in September, when the New York Times column “The Hunt” featured a young couple who moved five times in two-and-a-half years, only to end up in an apartment with bed bugs?
I am astonished to find that, not even three months later, a second “The Hunt” column results in a bedbugged apartment. In this case, a young couple (Jon Werberg and Helene Mattera) moved into a semi-gut-renovated apartment on East 117th Street, only to find various troubles, including the elusive cimex lectularius, Mr. Bed Bug.
When the two arrived in late summer, the workers weren’t quite finished. “The hassles started right from the beginning,” Mr. Werberg said. They included sporadic hot water, trash in the hallways, rats and — worst of all — bedbugs. The couple spent hundreds of dollars on laundry. They now wish they had thought harder about building maintenance and general cleanliness.
Although bed bugs can often accompany poor building maintenance and hygiene problems, there is no relation between them, and it’s important to keep this in mind.
Ms. Mattera continues,
“My favorite thing about the apartment is the fact that two of my good friends live within minutes,” Ms. Mattera said. “That is the greatest thing, just calling them and saying, ‘I’ll meet you downstairs.’”
Which is fine, if the bed bugs are gone. If they’re not, it kind of takes all the fun out of the apartment.
It does make you wonder, if the New York Times can follow two couples in an apartment search leading to bed bugs, twice in twelve weeks, how many people in NYC are moving into bedbugged digs?
We know bed bugs in NYC are spreading like wildfire.
Maybe the New York Times should spend some time investigating how far bed bugs have truly spread, and how common they now are. Besides the two “The Hunt” columns, and an op ed, the paper last covered bed bugs in October 2006, using the city’s data on bed bug violations from the summer of 2006 (only those cases reported to 311 and declared “bed bugs” by city inspectors). It’s time to challenge the relevance of data that relies on people calling the city’s information hotline to report a pest most only call their landlords or a PCO about. It’s time for real data.