Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 by Bill Cowley
JAHMA (Jersey Affordable Housing Management Association) is a nonprofit fair housing advocacy organization that supports owners and property managers of affordable and government-assisted housing in New Jersey.
For JAHMA’s Spring 2018 Issue, Bill Cowley wrote an article to relay his knowledge and experiences about one vexing pest control issue that we see time and time again in the affordable housing market: Bed bug infestations of senior housing apartments and other facilities.
Bill was anxious to write about this topic because of his company’s experience. Although bed bugs can strike anywhere, anytime, anyplace, a disproportionate number of bed bug infestations are in senior housing apartments, assisted living centers, and similar facilities. The problem is not only the frequency of these infestations, but the severity of them. All too often, bed bug infestations are not discovered until the infestation is entrenched and has spread throughout the building to other units.
What makes bed bugs such a problem with elderly housing? Often senior tenants are left alone without friends or family to regularly visit and check-up on them. Because of their poor mobility, medical issues, and diminished mental capacity, seniors are often unaware of an infestation, especially in its early stages. Also, their units are often filled with clutter, giving these insects almost unlimited harborage.
Bed bugs in senior facilities is one of the most challenging infestations that we face. Senior tenants often lack the physical and mental wherewithal to help themselves. These situations can be heart-breaking.
If bed bugs are discovered, we have protocols and treatments to get the infestation resolved. However, we often need the help of the management company to work with the tenants or their families to get their units properly prepped for treatment. By and large, management companies are extremely helpful in working to get the tenant’s clutter under control. Everyone wants the bed bug problem to stay isolated and not spread throughout the building. The cooperation and support of the property management team in these situations is essential.
Bill wrote this article to shed light on a particularly difficult pest infestation for those involved with affordable housing. There are few things worse than bed bug infestations involving helpless and vulnerable seniors who are being “eaten alive” by these blood-sucking pests. Affordable housing property managers should expect to deal with a bed bug infestation at some point if they haven’t already. With bed bugs and senior facilities, the issue is not whether a bed bug infestation will occur. Based on our experience, it’s only a question of when.
See page 8