By James Lawson
Special to Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Monthly meetings are being held to combat the growing bed bug infestation in Section 8 housing, senior dwellings and low-income housing. In September a meeting, Cry For a Call to Action, held at St. Aloysius Center, 1234 Washington Blvd, led to numerous calls to city officials.
"What are you doing to get rid of them (bed bugs)?” callers asked.
Wanda Black indicated the problem was going unaddressed.
“Either the management companies are not willing to do anything about the problem,” Black said. “Or they don’t know what they are doing.”
Bedbugs were once a common public health pest worldwide, which declined in incidence through the mid 20th century. Recently however, bed bugs have undergone a dramatic resurgence and worldwide there are reports of increasing numbers of infestations. Bed bugs are one of the great travelers of the world and are readily transported via luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. As such, they have a worldwide distribution.
Carol Simpson, a resident of one of the senior complexes, knows the horrors of an encounter with bed bugs. Simpson has penny-sized brown circles all over her arms and legs. She said her life has been dreadful since being bitten.
“I’m embarrassed, and feel abused, mentally, physically and emotionally,” Simpson said. “
Several dozen tenants of Bishop GD Moore Apartments in Highland Park were in court April 5. The tenants are withholding rent until several issues are resolved. The most significant is the bedbug infestation. Judge Bridgette Officer ordered mediation to solve the problem. The tenants accepted.
Tenant Robert Jones said the landlord took tenants to court attempting to force tenants to take money out of escrow and pay rent. The money has been in escrow for four months. Judge Officer ordered the money transferred to a court escrow fund and held until the issue is resolved. Tenants must pay into the escrow fund just as they would pay their monthly rent.
A joint Detroit/Wayne County Bed Bug Task Force has been created to eliminate the problem. Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware, a member of the task force, said Wayne County government will do whatever it can to provide citizens the assistance they need.
“One of the primary responsibilities of government is the health and safety of the community,” Ware said. “Bed bugs are definitely a community health problem that we must deal with head-on." Mark Sheperdigian, Board Certified Entomologist with Rose Pest Control, said bed bugs go with people. “People live close together in urban areas. Therefore we must start a campaign to educate people how to reduce the possibility of spreading bedbugs,” Sheperdigian said. “One of the core principles: Do not pick up discarded furniture and bring it back into the complexes! Bed bugs can live in the cold.”
City of Detroit Health Department official Don Edwards said there has been a spike in the number of reported bed bug infestations for the last two years.
Arthur Rushin of the Detroit Building & Safety Engineering Property Management said training is needed to address resident’s complaints. “When we go into a home or apartment, first we verify they have bed bugs. According to the Detroit Metropolitan Landlord Association it cost between $20,000 and $100,000 to stop infestation.
Read the original published article in The Michigan Citizen.