Indianapolis Housing Authority vs. Bed Bugs

by nobugsonme on August 5, 2008 · 8 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs in public housing

Lugar Tower, a public housing development in Indianapolis, has a bed bug problem. They’ve spent $60,000 to get rid of the building’s bed bugs, but the bed bugs are still biting. reports,

. . . for more than two years they have been dealing with a bed-bug infestation so bad that the city housing authority has spent $60,000 — and counting — and enlisted a team of researchers from Purdue University to try to get rid of the pesky critters.

The Indianapolis Housing Authority is on the right track in that it has enlisted an entomologist for advice to help them get rid of bed bugs in Lugar Tower:

Purdue entomologist Tim Gibb, who is among the researchers working with the housing authority, said strides have been made at Lugar by dousing areas with chemical and organic pesticides — infested rooms are sprayed monthly — and also educating residents.

Each new tenant, said Indianapolis Housing Agency chief Bud Myers, needs to learn bed-bug precautions: no bringing in outside furniture or bedding, and telling management as soon as there is a sign of the creatures.

Educating residents and staff is essential to prevent reinfestation and to stop the spread of bed bugs.

I hope the building is performing rigorous inspections of all units attached to those that are known to be infested. Myers estimates that 10-15 of the 225 units are currently infested (though the problem has been going on in the building for two years). If they are not aware of all currently infested units, and so all infested areas are not treated properly, then the problem will not go away and will keep spreading.

Also, monthly sprays of infested units may not be enough. PCOs often tell us that 2-week follow-ups are ideal. Two years is a long time; aggressive treatment of known-to-be-infested units as well as thorough inspections of units where tenants aren’t complaining of bed bugs are crucial in eliminating this problem.

1 hopelessnomo August 5, 2008 at 10:17 am

The Indy Star’s readers leave comments that are several grades above others we’ve seen in other papers.

2 nobugsonme August 5, 2008 at 10:54 am

Yes, they do, hopelessnomo.

They comment as if they are aware of bed bugs, perhaps have even had them.

3 parakeets August 5, 2008 at 1:17 pm

If this place spent $60,000 to get rid of bedbugs, and they still have them, I worry about places that want to make tenants pay such as where residents of the low-income housing units run by the Public Housing Authority in Frankfort, Kentucky who have to pay for their own bed bug treatment, at a cost of $500-600. It’s one thing to pay for treatments that WORK, but unless the entire building is treated, it may end up like this building. $60,000 spent and bedbugs are still there?

4 truckster August 6, 2008 at 10:08 am

The problem I see is where is all this money supposed to come from? Have any of you been in bldgs like these? Do you see the level of cooperation from the majority of residents? So the money should just endlessly flow to get this problem under control when there is no magic bullet.

5 nobugsonme August 6, 2008 at 11:53 am


Residents and staff need to be educated about bed bugs and to cooperate fully. I believe that is possible.

If people are not cooperating, steps need to be taken to deal with that.

But the other option is to make residents who _do_ cooperate live with bed bugs permanently because their neighbor doesn’t cooperate.

Would you like to be the cooperative neighbor in that scenario? Would you like your relatives to live with bed bugs permanently, or yourself?

6 truckster August 7, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Actually, I was the cooperative neighbor in my scenario which is why I know we can’t just gloss over “dealing w/uncooperative residents”. My landlord was just as much a victim as me as she did what she could but there were several residents who she had to get legal with (adding to her expense) with a system that is slow to help a “good” landlord. Not everybody cares if they have bedbugs, just like a whole lot of people don’t care if they have roaches and live in filth…

7 nobugsonme August 8, 2008 at 12:49 am

truckster, I don’t think I am “glossing over” the uncooperative tenants. I often write about the need for tenants to cooperate (and, if they don’t, for steps to be taken to deal with this).

On the other hand, we have seen instances where landlords used “uncooperative tenants” as an excuse for giving up on bed bugs, and this is wrong too. Protecting the cooperative tenant, and the good landlord, are always at the forefront of my mind.

But I also want to note that some uncooperative tenants are simply uneducated or have mental or physical disabilities or other reasons they may not be doing what they need to. All that needs addressing too.

8 nobugs March 20, 2009 at 11:10 pm

And now (seven months on), only eight tenants are said to still have bed bugs in Lugar Tower.

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