The Department of Public Welfare office in Easton, Pennsylvania is the latest location in the town to become infested with bed bugs.
WFMZ Allentown reports that the State of Pennsylvania has reopened the office today, after closing it for bed bug treatment on Thursday:
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare office in Easton reopened to the public this morning, two days after bed bugs were found inside.
Spokesman Mike Race said exterminators went through the building at 201 Larry Holmes Drive yesterday in an attempt to rid it of the bugs.
Officials say that if further treatment is needed, the building will be treated at night to avoid disruptions to service.
Note: if you’re talking about traditional spray-and-dust treatments, further treatment is almost always needed.
Easton’s public housing authority has also been fighting bed bugs, with confirmed cases in eight or nine apartments in Bushkill House (an apartment complex), and one in Walter House (a high-rise complex for seniors) as of September 4th, according to this Express-Times article.
In Walter House, residents claimed to see bed bugs in the elevators (suggesting there may be more unconfirmed cases), and complained that they were not promptly warned about the presence of bed bugs in the building.
The Express-Times notes that the housing authority in Easton has begun paying for treatment for bed bugs for its residents. This is a really good move, since people on fixed incomes will often forego needed bed bug treatments simply because they cannot pay for them.
According to this August article in The Morning Call, in neighboring Bethlehem, the housing authority also pays for treatment.
But in nearby Allentown, only the first treatment is covered by the city, and then housing authority residents must pay for follow-ups. This depressing recent story from WFMZ describes Allentown public housing tenants with bed bugs having their furniture sent to the dump, without replacement. I expect Allentown officials will eventually see the problems with such a system, which encourages people who are short of cash to discontinue treatment before it’s completed. I suspect many tenants simply don’t report problems, after seeing neighbors losing all their furniture.
Lehigh Valley Live also reported on September 4th that confirmed cases of bed bugs in Easton’s public housing have risen as follows in the last four years:
Bed bugs spread easily, especially if cases are left untreated. Most people on fixed incomes cannot afford bed bug treatment.
If public housing officials do not contain the spread by providing tenants with professional treatment, the problem will be more widespread. I suspect the numbers will be even higher now that people know that if they admit to a problem, it will be treated by the housing authority.
No word on the spread of bed bugs in privately-owned housing and other places in Easton, though you can be sure they’re there too.