Joe Fiorito has a new story in the Toronto Star today about Bill Huddlestone, who suffers from bed bugs in his Toronto Community Housing apartment on Lawrence at Morningside.
To say Huddlestone has a persistent problem with bed bugs is an understatement:
“They’ve sprayed 21 times in the past two years.” Okay, read that sentence again and think it through slowly: you have a problem, and you try to solve it; the first time doesn’t work, nor the second, nor the third or fourth.
What would you do?
[Toronto Community Housing Corporation] keeps booking exterminators. You or I might at least try something different.
Bill took some papers from an envelope, proof that he’d been booked for 21 fumigations going back to 2008. He handed them to me. I didn’t want to take them. Bedbugs are fond of sleeping between those sheets, too.
Bill waved the sheaf of paper and said, “How could anyone pay this bill 21 times and not think there’s something wrong?” That is not the only question, but it is a very good question.
We were about to leave. I asked him about the curious smell in the apartment. He opened a closet door. In it, neatly stacked, were 72 empty cans of aerosol bug sprays.
And no, the self-treatment isn’t working either.
Like Bill Huddlestone, I cannot fathom how a landlord (in this case public housing, which should have the best interests of the public in mind) can order 21 treatments of an apartment in two years, and not realize there’s something going terribly wrong.
It is simply not okay for an 80-year old man to sleep on his coffee table because he threw out four beds in three years (and the two mattress encasements he has in place offer no protection).
Joe Fiorito has given more attention to the bed bug problem in his city than any journalist I know of, anywhere. I wish every city had a Joe Fiorito on the case, bringing the local bed bug stories into the light.
But bringing the problem into the light is just the first step: someone then needs to do something. The Bill Huddlestones of Toronto, New York, Cincinnati, and San Francisco need help. Real help. And they need it now.