There’s a new New York Times “Neediest Cases” story involving a family battling bed bugs, this time the Shevchenko family in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The family was given a new mattress and loveseat, which they were soon able to move with them to a new apartment.
You will remember earlier “Neediest Cases” stories about families with bed bugs in the Bronx (December 2009), and the Bronx again (January 2007), Nyack, NY (January 2006), Queens (November, 2005), and an unnamed location (November 2004). The Neediest Cases Fund helps families and individuals in distress, and the current season of giving (and the series of articles in the New York Times documenting this year’s stories) runs from November 2009 through January 2010.
It’s not surprising to see so many stories involving bed bugs, since a bout with them can have a serious impact on a family’s finances and their well-being.
Although I am really happy the Neediest Cases Fund was able to help this family by giving them a new mattress and loveseat, this story also reminds me of all those others who are struggling with bed bugs and can’t get good information or treatment. So many who — like the tenant in the story, whose only treatment appears to have been a can of OTC bed bug spray — may have no idea of what their options are.
And then there are all of those who know what their options are, but nevertheless are living with the problem because their building is not managing it well, and they can’t afford to move out (let alone afford to take all the necessary precautions that moving from a bed bug-infested home entails).
Let’s hope New York City takes significant steps in 2010 to help make the situation better — by educating tenants about their rights regarding bed bugs, by providing more and better trained Housing and Preservation Department inspectors to check out complaints, by improving departmental practices (in city departments dealing with public housing, sanitation, etc.) and laws (such as those regarding the sanitizing and resale of used mattresses) so that bed bugs spread more slowly and make fewer people miserable for a shorter amount of time.