The chemicals didn’t stop bed bugs and now seniors are embarrassed to speak up to management

Bed Bugs Bite Senior
Seniors are embarrassed by Bed Bug Bites

When bed bugs recently invaded apartments at Arthur D. Sartini Plaza, some residents of the Las Vegas public housing project for the elderly remained quiet out of embarrassment, the manager said.

That helped the tiny bloodsuckers chomp their way across a wider swath of the four-story complex and made for a bigger cleanup when word of the infestation finally got out, he said.

August Anderson, 76, says that he reported the bugs when they appeared in his one-bedroom apartment and began chewing on him but acknowledges that he didn’t make much of a fuss.

Not much gets him down, he said. “I’m an old, feisty kind of guy …”

 Anderson pays $178 per month for his third-floor apartment, and at that price he saw the bugs as more of an inconvenience.

“I love my apartment and I like living here,” he said of his home of 12 years.

Management had an exterminator spray Anderson’s unit and eight others in the 220-unit complex last week. But Anderson said Tuesday he was still finding bites; his apartment was scheduled for a follow-up on Friday.

He said he has no complaints with how management responded after becoming aware of the problem.

Resident Carol Rehm agreed. She said she has lived in the building for about four years and never encountered a bed bug until January. When she did, she said, she reported the problem and management sent someone to her apartment to spray within a couple days.

Jerry Nowlan, who manages the complex for the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority, said the complex has had recurring bouts with bed bugs, despite the best efforts of exterminators to get rid of them.

“I’ve never seen it this bad anywhere. Ever,” said Nowlan, who has managed rental properties for 20 years.

Nowlan said some residents contribute to the outbreaks by failing to report infestations because they are embarrassed, feeling like they somehow contributed to the appearance of the pests. That, in turn, puts their neighbors at risk.

“One apartment could affect the whole floor,” he said.

He’s had representatives from Terminix, the company that handles pest control for the Housing Authority, try to educate residents on what it takes to fight bed bugs.

Resident Sandra Pecorino, who has lived in the building for years, doesn’t buy the reluctant resident explanation and questions whether an all-out effort to exterminate the pests has been made.

“Nobody wants to live with bugs,” she said.

That may be true, says George Botta, who exterminates bed bugs for Las Vegas Pest Control, but correcting public misconceptions is an important part of his job.

He said people shouldn’t be embarrassed if they experience an outbreak, as poor sanitation doesn’t attract bed bugs. Excessive clutter, however, makes it difficult to find and kill them, he added.

And the pests don’t disproportionately affect low-income housing, Botta said.

“They’re in every ZIP code in Vegas,” he said. “They’re here to stay.”

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal