Cambridge, MA considers how to address city’s bed bug problem

by nobugsonme on October 27, 2009 · 2 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, massachusetts, money

Wicked Local Cambridge, MA reports the following in a brief recap of  last night’s Cambridge, MA City Council meeting:

Councilors voted to look further into bedbug extermination protocol and ways make the associated costs for residents more affordable.

I had some trouble with this video of the meeting, but the relevant part is item five and begins about 2:16.

(This is a paraphrased account of what I heard): the Cambridge City Council asks the Public Health Department to work with Cambridge Housing Authority and other agencies to address the bed bug problem.

Councillor Craig Kelley speaks briefly but eloquently, suggesting the city needs a one-stop place to go to find out about bed bugs, and an education program so people will learn (for example) not to pick up discarded furniture. According to Kelley, the problem is partly one of various agencies not knowing what to do, what best practices are.

(Again, that’s a rough paraphrase of what I could catch. My computer did not like the video format.)

These are problems that sound very familiar to me and will probably sound familiar to others in New York and elsewhere.

We look forward to hearing more about Cambridge’s attempts to do more about bed bugs.

1 parakeets October 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

At a Boston bedbug conference, a staffer from a city bordering Cambridge said their city quickly ran out of the money they had been able to set aside to address bedbugs. So unless the cost and effort of bedbug control is spread across a very large sector of the population, and at the same time intensive efforts are made to educate the public and prevent the spread of bedbugs…how can it be effective? Who is going to vote to allocate sufficient money to address bedbug issues in a city when even condo owners (an example of a small community) often won’t vote for bedbug treatment of their own building when their own unit is not infested? Bedbug stakeholders divide into the “have” (have bedbugs) and “Have nots” (don’t have bedbugs). Somehow the “Have nots,” those who don’t have bedbugs, think they are somehow immune from bedbugs, won’t get them, and that those who have bedbugs brought them on themselves by their lack of housekeeping, or that the “Have’s,” those who have bedbugs, belong to different groups (students, foreigners, the poor, those in government housing) that cause them to have bedbugs. I feel things will get worse before they get better. It looks to me like Cambridge is looking into remedies via the public sector here (Public Health, Housing). I hope they move forward to the private and academic sectors, to educate landlords and colleges, and recommend protocols about disclosure to all. Cities that don’t deal with bedbugs will be like landlords who don’t deal with bedbugs–the value of the property will go down, and it will be far more expensive to fix the problem the longer you delay.

2 nobugsonme October 31, 2009 at 12:15 am


Thanks for your thoughtful comments, as always!

I suspect public officials only get involved in this issue once voters and agency employees reach out and tell them what a mess they’re in regarding bed bugs. It feels like there has to be a critical mass of bed bug sufferers (or survivors) before officials hear enough complaints to move them to action. You are right that once action is taken, it must address both private and public sector concerns about bed bugs.

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