Langdon Mill Apartments: now 85% bed bug-free

by nobugsonme on September 14, 2009 · 6 comments

in bed bug prevention, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, landlords and tenants, money, new hampshire

Thank goodness the building is under the care of a community organization and landlord that is not willing to put up with this building being only 85% bed bug-free.

Remember this campaign to free a 20-unit Manchester, New Hampshire building (Langdon Mill Apartments) of bed bugs?

A group called NH Bed Bugs, spearheaded by members of the American Friends Service Committee and the Granite State Organizing Project, went to great lengths to try and solve the bed bug problem at Langdon Mill.

As the Concord Monitor reported Sunday,

They moved the families out of the building. They washed and dried all of their clothes and bedding on high heat. They threw out almost all of the furniture they owned – not just mattresses and couches, but tables and desks, too – and solicited donated replacements. After exterminators had sprayed everything, the families came back.

Unfortunately, when new mattresses were being brought back in on Wednesday, three units still showed signs of a bed bug infestation.

Though vastly improved, the building will continue to be treated.

Make no mistake, it is a vast improvement: the building has had bed bugs since 2005, and when NH Bed Bugs stepped in, every unit was infested.

NH Bed Bugs threw itself into the project, and learned on a large scale what individual bedbuggers learn: how difficult and expensive it is to get rid of bed bugs.

Maggie Fogarty, of the American Friends Service Committee told the Concord Monitor,

“. . . we couldn’t ask these refugee tenants to run every piece of clothing they had through a high heat cycle in the dryer. It cost us thousands of dollars to do it for them,” Fogarty said. “They certainly couldn’t afford to go out and buy all new stuff, even secondhand stuff.

“One of the problems we have not figured out is, how do you do this if you’re of limited means? How do you do this effectively?” she said. “It’s a very expensive problem.”

And Fogarty is mindful too of the difficulty of helping people get rid of this problem:

“We cannot convene hundreds of volunteers, and tens of thousands of dollars, for every building in New Hampshire,” Fogarty said. “We have to step back and look, systemically, how we can prevent this problem from spreading.”

[Emphasis mine.]

There are two important points here:

  1. Bed bug preparations and treatment are time consuming and costly.  If people cannot afford the costs of bed bug preparations and treatment, or cannot manage the physical labor, then bed bugs will continue to thrive and spread.
  2. Bed bugs are a fact of life and cannot be completely avoided.

Some steps may help curtail their spread and/or help stop them in their tracks when they are brought in:

  • Everyone needs to be educated about how to avoid bringing bed bugs home;
  • Residential buildings, schools, office buildings, public transportation, and other locations need regular professional inspections to detect bed bugs;
  • Cracks and wall voids may need to be dusted and sealed, and other preventive measures taken to foil the odd bed bugs which may be brought in.
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1 Elia Levin September 14, 2009 at 8:04 am

The majority of prep time and the need to throw away all furniture, etc could have been avoided by simply treating with the Thermapureheat process.

2 nobugsonme September 14, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Hi Elia,

Thanks for your message.

Thermal would have been preferable on many levels. However, I suspect the cost may be prohibitive to the groups involved.

The washing and drying and replacement of items cost NH Bed Bugs $20K (with an additional $20K donation of items from Walmart).

The landlord claims to have spent $30K “exterminating the building” but that appears to be since 2005! I expect the costs in 2009 were much lower.

I would be very interested to hear a ballpark estimate of how much thermal treatment of a 20-unit building might have cost in New Hampshire (or anywhere). If it is comparable to the costs spent here, then this would be good for NH Bed Bugs and other groups to hear before they attempt this again.

3 Elia Levin September 14, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Depending on the size of unit, how much we are expected to help with preparing the units, the amount of furniture and other thermal mass, as well as many other factors are considered in our pricing. I would think that approximately $20,000, give or take would be a fair ballpark figure.

Since we service well over 1000 apartment communities, we try to keep our prices on the lower end since we know how difficult this issue is for multi-unit building owners.

4 Langdon Mill Campaign October 16, 2009 at 5:26 am

Greetings from Manchester, NH! We are now gathering city officials, community leaders and others to look at what kinds of city ordinances or policy changes we can recommend which will help reduce and address bed bug infestations in the city. We have just gotten a copy of a bill in New Jersey that relates to these issues. Are there other city ordinances or policy recommendations that others are aware of that we can use as models for our planning in Manchester? We will be very grateful for whatever you can send us!
Mfogarty@afsc.org

5 nobugsonme October 18, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Hi Langdon Mill,
We’ll send an email.

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