Lots of news items are appearing, as the plan we heard of on Tuesday was officially announced yesterday.
NY1’s Cindi Avila quoted Gale Brewer as to the reason New York is taking action:
Last year, the city’s 311 hotline got 7,000 bedbug related calls, almost four times more than just three years earlier. Now the city is taking action, educating the public about the painful problem.
“The bottom line is bed bugs must be dealt with. And they are a mental health issue if they are not a physical health issue,” said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer. “New Yorkers really need to know their government is behind them in trying to get rid of bedbugs.”
We look forward to knowing more about what’s happening in these educational events:
Wednesday the city announced plans to hold three seminars aimed at educating the public about the blood-sucking parasites.
“To ensure they know when they have bedbugs, to ensure they know how to exterminate the bedbugs, and to ensure that they identify if a neighbor may also have bedbugs that could spread into their homes,” said City Councilman Miguel Martinez of the purpose of the meetings.
These three goals are far more difficult than perhaps even Councilman Martinez understands. Bed bugs can be hard to locate. Perhaps the most important thing New Yorkers need to know is that entomologist Michael Potter estimates as many as 50% of people don’t react to bed bug bites. So you can have them and have no idea.
And tipping your mattress over often does not lead to enlightenment, as many bedbuggers have found–it’s not that easy to detect bed bugs.
Meanwhile, AP reporter Deepti Hajela wrote an article that was picked up all over, including Newsday.
Hajela spoke with officials about the reason for the campaign:
“It’s about quality of life,” Luiz Aragon, deputy commissioner in the Department of Housing and Preservation, said. “We know that people are sometimes attempting to deal with this problem but they don’t know how to.”
In my experience, knowledge is crucial, but only part of the battle.
For tenants, getting landlords to treat properly, using licensed Pest Control Operators and treating until a problem is fully gone, is the real struggle.
I am sure many landlords, PCOs, and bedbugged neighbors, would also complain about some tenants not cooperating with preparations, or not reporting the problem, or trying to self-treat.
Meanwhile, most people in co-ops have to figure out how to get their association on board with inspections and treatment.
Education helps with all that, but the city needs knowledge–of who’s infested, and muscle–to force action.
And the city will surely eventually have to help landlords and homeowners who can’t afford proper treatment, and tenants who may need help with preparations for treatment, not only to eliminate bed bugs but to keep the problem from spreading.