A news story from WBNS in Columbus demonstrates why that city needs better bed bug policies.
First, consider how bed bugs spread amongst neighbors at Bollinger Towers, 750 N. High Street:
Charlotte Hyajneh-Simpson thought she was lucky when her neighbor gave her his new carpet sweeper to keep.
“I started using the sweeper and then I started feeling these bites on me,” Hyajneh-Simpson said.
She told her neighbor, John Rand, about the bites, who said that his neighbor just had his apartment exterminated for bed bugs.
“They went next door and said, ‘Oh my God,’ and they ran out of there because there were so many (bed bugs) in there,” Rand said. “It was terrible. When the guy moved his furniture around, you could just pick it up with your hands.”
Hyajneh-Simpson said she was bitten on her arm and leg.
Neighbors sometimes share their homes, their possessions, as well as walls. Bed bugs can spread in any of those ways.
The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority could help reduce this “sharing” of bed bugs. But its current policies prevent this:
[Hyajneh-Simpson] said that she was upset the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority never told her there was a problem, but CMHA said that it only notifies the tenants who are affected to protect their privacy.
Meanwhile, bed bugs spread.
Maybe building managers (whether they are single-building landlords, or a city housing authority) could warn other tenants about the presence of bed bugs in the building, and in attached units, without necessarily declaring which units are affected.
Or maybe we could all get past the idea that having bed bugs is shameful. The only shame, in my mind, is not telling others that they are being exposed, and not treating infestations thoroughly and promptly.
Another article claimed Columbus apartment building owners are spending $1.5 million a year on bed bugs.
This story demonstrates how better bed bug policies could help reduce the costs of bed bugs to landlords and tenants. The bottom line is bed bugs spread in buildings. Neighbors need to know about the risks. What would happen if schools did not notify parents that a child in class had head lice? Just as parents need to be notified about head lice, neighbors need to be notified about bed bugs, a much more troublesome and costly problem, to landlords and tenants alike.