Providers of affordable housing in Kingston, Ontario are pleading with the city to help them fund efforts to get rid of bed bugs in their rental units.
“I think we have a major problem,” said Coun. Joyce MacLeod-Kane, who serves on the committee of non-profit Town Homes Kingston, one of the city’s affordable housing providers.
Town Homes manages about 400 units.
She recently appealed to city hall for funding to help eradicate the blood sucking pests.
“It’s being dealt with case by case. The housing agencies are absorbing the cost and it’s expensive,” she complained.
Despite being alerted to the bed bug problem, city council did not allocate any additional funding to help social housing agencies in the 2010 budget. Mayor Harvey Rosen acknowledges bed bugs are a nuisance in social housing and other places but he says they are not considered a public health threat.
“It’s not a health unit issue because bed bugs do not carry disease, but it is a province-wide issue.”
That old sweet refrain: bed bugs are “not a health issue” because they are not known to be a disease vector.
Mayor Rosen, I give you the World Health Organization’s Public Health Significance of Urban Pests. Specifically, the chapter on Mr. Cimex Lectularius. And the health problems bed bugs cause.
Bed bugs are, as you note, “a nuisance in social housing and other places.”
And the longer you allow people in affordable housing to live with bed bugs, the more places in your community will become infested.
Including lots of non-affordable housing, if you catch my drift.
I understand the economy and the limitations it places on government bodies in terms of offering assistance. However, as nothing is done, bed bugs continue to spread and eventually cost a lot more people a lot more money.
And yes, I am a bit touchy on this issue. Because only people who don’t know much about bed bugs consider them nothing more than “a nuisance.”