Bed bugs are one of the problems 63 formerly homeless men in transitional housing in a Boston YMCA are having to put up with. The building has apparently been so neglected so long that program sponsors may begin witholding rent.
Ironically, when these men have made the choice to leave homelessness behind, they’re made to live in housing that makes the street look attractive. (This is a problem elsewhere too.)
There have been rat droppings on the old, musty carpet and frequent mouse sightings near holes in the pocked, plaster walls. For months, exterminators have fought an infestation of bedbugs, which left at least one client with bite marks so bad he was treated at a hospital. Watermarks stain the aging ceiling, and some window frames are so old and ill-fitting that duct tape was used to stop drafts. In bathrooms, many of the urinals, toilets, and sinks are out of order.
Officials at the Cardinal Medeiros Transitional Program say they have complained about the conditions for years, but they contend that the YMCA Greater Boston, their landlord in the century-old building on Huntington Avenue, has ignored them while investing in top-of-the-line equipment for its gym. They accuse the Y of neglecting the 63 formerly homeless men who live there after an effort to terminate the program’s lease failed four years ago.
Now, program officials are threatening to withhold state lease payments to cover the cost of renovations, which they estimate could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.