The bedbug battle continues at Elkhart highrise, now tenants can face eviction
Posted: 06/07/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Tim Vandenack
Bedbugs, pesky insects that can infiltrate beds and furniture, biting their unsuspecting occupants, have been an issue at Waterfall for at least a year. Waterfall is a low-income highrise managed by the Elkhart Housing Authority.
Housing authority officials have used a bedbug-sniffing dog as part of the campaign to get rid of the insect, according to Kim Sindle, executive director of the agency. They sent housing authority personnel to get formal training in extermination and even spent $20,000 in special heat treatments of heavily impacted units.
The bugs are still around and in April, the board overseeing the housing authority took things a step further. That’s when the officials implemented a new policy that allows for eviction of tenants if they don’t cooperate with anti-bedbug efforts, Sindle said Wednesday.
“We’re just dealing with people Waterfall who have been difficult,” Sindle said.
The housing authority sets out specific steps for tenants to take to deal with bedbugs. When an exterminator is to visit their apartments to spray insecticide, for instance, they’re supposed to move furniture from the walls. The agency also sets out guidelines for cleaning of clothing and bedding, where bedbugs can live and multiply.
Tenants don’t always abide by the rules, though, and the April change allows for eviction if a tenant is written up three times for violation of the norms. Not that it’s something he relishes doing, but he has “no doubt,” Sindle said, that someone will face eviction in coming months over the matter.
Tenants at the Rosedale Highrise, another housing authority apartment complex here, were more cooperative in efforts to get rid of bedbugs and the campaign has largely been successful, Sindle noted.
“We’ve been working hard on this and it’s not lack of effort on our part,” Sindle said. He estimates that 12 to 15 of the 127 Waterfall units have bedbug problems,
Meanwhile, Waterfall tenant Larry Milliken said he’s in wait-and-see mode. Housing authority workers were to give a loveseat from his unit a special heat treatment on Wednesday after the discovery of a bedbug.
“I’m really waiting to see what happens, if it helps or not,” said Milliken, who has spoken loudly on the issue.
Milliken has had bedbug problems in the past — he had to toss a sofa becasue of apparent infestation — but said he hasn’t suffered any bedbug bites of late. Still, his daughter refuses to visit him because she doesn’t want to inadvertently carry an insect and infiltrate her own home. And Milliken said he knows other Waterfall tenants who still suffer bites.
“It’s a never-ending problem we have here,” Milliken said.