New York Daily News: NYC bed bug complaints up 34% in one year

by nobugsonme on February 17, 2009 · 2 comments

in 311, bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, bed bugs in the media, hpd, new york city, new york vs. bed bugs, spread of bed bugs

The New York Daily News has a good article today on the 34% increase in bed bug complaints in the last fiscal year, compared with the previous one.

The data for this came from the amazing Renee Corea, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request on behalf of New York vs. Bed Bugs.

Adam Linsberg reports,

“There are lots and lots of people who are having a devastating experience with bedbugs,” said Renee Corea, who helped start the coalition New York vs. Bed Bugs after being bitten. “We are already regarded as the most highly infested city in the United States.”

New Yorkers called 311 with 9,213 bedbug complaints in the last fiscal year, up 33.7% from the year before, according to records that Corea’s group obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

That probably understates the problem, Corea said, because uncounted numbers of New Yorkers call exterminators instead of phoning 311.

Thanks to Renee for communicating this crucial fact — one we bedbuggers know too well, but one which the powers that be — and the media — almost always overlook.

The article also mentions the crucial bed bug hearing next Tuesday at City Hall (1 pm, 2/24). Our good friend Lou Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History is also quoted,

“If you look at other cities, their local governments have taken a big step to try to educate people and deal with the problem.”

Yes indeed.

Other important information conveyed in the article:

The city Health Department doesn’t consider bedbugs a health issue, but at least three other city agencies track bedbug infestations separately in Housing Authority projects and school buildings.

Not all exterminators know how to spot and treat bedbugs, and critics say the city doesn’t do enough to stop infected mattresses from being reused. Some victims may be too embarrassed to seek help, and some small landlords may not be able to afford a competent exterminator, advocates say.

It would seem obvious that the city needs a more unified fight against the red menace, and that the current advice the city gives — when it is heavily prodded — to tell your landlord, to call 311: these are not always sufficient.

Want to know what happens when entire buildings become infested and landlords react after the fact by continually treating the entire building for bed bugs?

This happens. Here’s a bed bug registry complaint about a building on Lawrence Avenue East in Toronto, but it could be anywhere bed bugs were allowed to take over a building.

The Landlord here has told me that she is battling bed bugs on EVERY SINGLE FLOOR.

Every Monday the pest control guy comes and makes his rounds to spray for bed bugs.(For people that have prepared their unit, and are on ‘the list’ to be sprayed)

I’ve had my unit sprayed so so many times this past 12 months, and I still have bed bugs!

As if the idea of people living indefinitely with bed bugs is not enough, the poster goes on to claim a man in the building killed himself due to the ongoing infestation.

This report (brought to my attention by Death2BBs in the Bedbugger forums) was from a building in Toronto, but it could have been anywhere.

Thanks to Renee and Lou for getting the important facts about bed bugs out there, to Adam Linsberg for the excellent story, and to Roy Edroso in the Village Voice blog Running Scared for spreading the word.

And check out New York vs. Bed Bugs for details on how to testify in person at next week’s City Council Hearing (and on how to testify in writing if you cannot be present).

Update 2/17:

More from ABC 7 online, New York 1 andStaten Island Live (quite a turn-around for bed bug news in Staten Island.)

And then there’s WCBSTV.com, which says we got a bed bug task force in New York City in January 2008…

Update 2/28:

NBC News and The Staten Island Advance, the NYPress blog and Gothamist.

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1 Renee February 18, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Thanks for saying kind things, Nobugs.

I’m very sorry to read about this suicide story. I, well, this is really sad and I have no words.

2 nobugsonme February 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm

There are no words, and it is not the first time bed bugs have made people take such drastic and tragic action.

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