Residents of government-subsidized low-income units at the Carriage Circle Apartments in Pontiac, Michigan are in a bed bug bind.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development does not own the property, but merely subsidizes some residents’ costs. According to The Oakland Press, HUD says the owners need to maintain the complex. The Pontiac Housing Commission, meanwhile, says they simply don’t have the funding to deal with this.
After some professional treatments, this leaves residents itching and getting out their own wallets and DIY spray cans.
Residents Catherine Edwards and Earl Tilliard are among those suffering with bed bug bites and the costs of fighting the pests; Edwards told The Oakland Press they have to choose to “either get rid of the bed bugs, or eat.”
According to another video (below) from WXYZ news,
County officials say all they can do is educate the residents about what to do, how to use pesticides, and how to fumigate.
Although Catherine Edwards mentions in the first video that bed bug information was shoved under her door, both of these videos suggest that tenants are not very educated about bed bugs.
For example, Cheryl Chodun notes for WXYZ that residents are sleeping in the daytime to avoid bites. (And this, we know, won’t really help.)
Tilliard reports a departing caseworker spraying lavender and alcohol on herself as she left to help avoid taking the problem home. (Alcohol is a contact killer, but spritzing yourself is unlikely to hit the bed bugs; the Travel FAQS may have some more useful suggestions.)
Also, Edwards mentions throwing out nearly all of their posessions, and the WXYZ report notes that the management has tried “heat treatments” but the bed bugs persist. It’s often true that where residents throw out belongings due to bed bugs, other residents take them in, spreading the problem.
Edwards notes the couple have bought a box of pesticides they’re afraid to use.
Having the tenants do their own treatment for bed bugs, at this stage, may mean the problem is spread further (through misapplication or overuse of pesticides).
These residents really need coordinated, professional treatment, and everyone needs to become really educated about how to avoid bringing bed bugs back into the building.
Sufficient funding and tenant-management cooperation are both key here.
WXYZ says residents have only complained to the county about bed bugs in the complex once in 2009. I hope more of them will do so. The county needs to understand the scope of these problems.