Bed bugs were first noticed by residents in the 150-unit Hacienda high-rise in Richmond, California in March, and now “at least half the apartments” are infested, according to the Contra Costa Times, which reports that
Exterminators visited a handful of units in May, told the tenants to call back if they started seeing more bugs in 20 days or so, said Dolores Johnson, president of the tenants council. [Tenant Denise] Cordoba called after 10, but nobody came out to spray again. A number of residents received letters in mid-August telling them the city would exterminate but needs them to vacate for at least eight days. The Housing Authority and members of the resident council met Thursday to discuss how to tackle the problem.
Bug bites now mark residents and frequent visitors to the Hacienda like an exotic leprosy. Tenants poke speckled arms out their doors for inspection, talk about how their grandchildren no longer visit.
“It’s an ungodly feeling,” Cordoba said, “like the hair standing up on the back of your neck.”
Some collect great jars and bags of the flat, red-brown insects. Itch medicine doesn’t always help. Nor does getting down on hands and knees to scrub walls and floors with bleach, which [tenant Billy] Nichols does daily, despite his paraplegia.
Bed bug infestations being treated with one spray-and-pray treatment?
Tenants being told to call in 20 days for re-treatment if they see bed bugs? That’s no way to get rid of bed bugs.
A man with paraplegia on his knees scrubbing the floor in a futile attempt to stop bed bugs from biting him?
And then there’s the suggestion by a resident that her living conditions were better when she slept rough on the street:
“I was homeless for four years. I slept in fields, under freeway overpasses,” said Denise Cordoba, who lives on the fourth floor. “But it wasn’t until I moved here that I got bedbugs.”
These stories of long-suffering tenants of city-maintained housing which is infested with bed bugs appear in the news weekly. They’re a dime a dozen. Many of them detail bed bug infestations going on for years and affecting entire buildings.
And yet I am constantly amazed at how poorly bed bug infestations are being managed.
The article notes that Housing Authority Director Tim Jones said he was aware of only 11 affected units (though in April 63 tenants signed a petition for relief). He is considering options for eliminating the problem including evacuating and fumigating the entire complex.
Let’s hope the residents get some relief soon.