New York City has a rat czar. Will we be getting a Bed Bug Czar any time soon?
Mayor Bloomberg will be holding a press conference tomorrow (Wednesday 7/ 28) at 2 pm, to present the report of the Bed Bug Advisory Board (BBAB), which was given to the Mayor back in April. The Mayor created the BBAB back in March 2009.
According to NYC apartment blog BrickUnderground, who cleverly managed to score a copy of the report in advance, key aspects of the report include the following:
- Creating a Bed Bug Team headed by an entomologist to coordinate the city’s bed bug control efforts;
- A massive public education effort and a city-funded “Bed Bug Academy” for building & property managers and possibly pest management professionals.
- An online Bed Bug Portal devoted to vetted bed bug facts and resources for residents, landlords, property managers, city agencies, health care and social services providers etc. The portal could also be used to track infestation statistics by district to identify “reservoirs” of infestations requiring special attention and funding.
- A clear protocol for residents dealing with a bed bug problem, including a “triage” plan detailing what to do (and not do) in the first 24 hours;
- Guidelines for throwing away infested items, as well as for donating used clothes and furniture and shopping at secondhand stores;
- Assigning bed bug cases higher priority in Housing Court, and giving stronger rights of access to apartments that have become bed bug reservoirs. Property owners would also be required to distribute bed bug information with lease signings and renewals.
If you have any doubt in your mind about the need for these kinds of steps, have a look at the latest NYC data on bed bugs, from Renee Corea of New York vs. Bed Bugs, showing directory assistance calls pertaining to bed bugs, bed bug complaints and violations, etc. from Fiscal Year 2008 – 2010.
The data, as limited as it is,* shows bed bugs in New York City have steadily gotten worse from 2004-2010.
We have been calling on the city to help for years.
I look forward to the press conference tomorrow, and I truly hope the city will do everything it can to implement these recommendations and fund them.
Things can get better, or New York’s bed bugs can get a whole lot worse.
*The data is limited because it is based on official bed bug complaints made to the city, some of which are investigated by the city inspectors, with some of those inspected being classed as bed bug violations. Most people in NYC who have bed bugs do not file an official bed bug complaint. I know this only anecdotally, but I know it’s true. Actual numbers of people with bed bugs in NYC are far, far higher than the official statistics note. Hopefully we will soon have ways of compiling data which more accurately reflect the bed bug realities in this city.
For more on the BBAB’s report to the Mayor, and the upcoming press conference, see also: