Towels under the door: when cities abandon tenants with bed bugs

by nobugsonme on May 21, 2009 · 3 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs and the elderly, bed bugs in apartments, bed bugs in low-income housing, cincinnati, ohio

This is what happens when local authorities cannot help low-income tenants get help and treatment for bed bugs. 

WLWT in Cincinnati reports that the Hillrise Apartments for Seniors in College Hill still has a serious bed bug problem. Cincinnati, you’ll remember, did not fund its Health Department’s bed bug inspection program in their last budget, and ceased doing bed bug inspections in January 2009.

The Cincinnati Health Department had to cease inspecting for bed bugs even though requests for assistance had gone from 70 requests in 2007 to 750 in 2008.

The residents at Hillrise Apartments appear to be living without proper bed bug treatment, claiming they’ve had bed bugs for years. In fact, we ran a story on Bedbugger about bed bugs in the Hillrise Apartments back in October 2007, when they were already said by tenants to have “spread from one end of the building to the other.” And that was over nineteen months ago!

The video linked below shows senior citizens attempting to ward off bed bug bites with 91% isopropyl alcohol (a contact killer if sprayed directly on a bed bug, this won’t prevent bed bugs from biting) or attempting keep them out of apartments with a towel stuck under the door.  The video shows bed bugs crawling and fecal traces in the corners of a room that must have had bed bugs for a very long time.

WLWT notes that many residents have sought medical help for the bed bug bites and

The problem is so bad that local hospitals have actually called the Health Department looking for help for Hillrise residents.

The Cincinnati Health Department says landlords are responsible for treating to get rid of bed bugs, but as as we noted above, the Health Department no longer sends inspectors to identify the problem and educate residents about treatment options:

The Health Department said it did have a program that would check for bed bugs and then educate residents on their options, but that program was cut months ago when the city slashed its budget.

Please go to Seniors Battle Bed Bugs At Infested Apartment Complex – WLWT Cincinnati to read the full story and watch the depressing video.

And think long and hard about what happens when local public officials have good ideas about fighting bed bugs, but no funding to implement them.

And before anyone asks, yes: I get that the economy stinks. However, it’s more expensive to treat bed bugs when an infestation is allowed to get very bad. And obviously, the longer it goes on, the more citizens will get bed bugs (increasing treatment costs exponentially).

We’re talking about a city in which a recent study found one in six people had had bed bugs. One in six, according to the Spring 2008 Greater Cincinnati Health Survey conducted by the University of Cincinnati Institute for Policy Research.

And that was in Spring 2008; I do expect that number to grow.

If infestations are allowed to go on for years, with insufficient or no bed bug treatment, not only do the residents suffer, but bed bugs also continue to spread to others and infest more people’s homes, causing more suffering, costing more money.

I wonder how many more people in Cincinnati and the surrounding area have bed bugs as a result of this particular infestation being allowed to go on for years.

1 pest May 22, 2009 at 9:07 am

wow one in six thats a hell of a lot of bed bugs .

2 Bed Bugs May 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm

That’s so messed up that they are living that way. I would demand to live somewhere else rather than deal with that. People have so many problems anyways, why should they have to deal with bed bugs as well?

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