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.
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.”
There are two important points here:
- 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.
- 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.