The board of commissioners of the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority has approved a contract with a pest-control company for bed-bug treatment in its buildings.
The one-year agreement with Bug Patrol of Ohio LLC of Columbus, which the board approved Thursday, begins April 1 in an amount not to exceed $30,000, with three one-year renewal options under those terms.
About 60 of the authority’s more than 1,200 apartments have required bed-bug treatment over the past year, most of them in high-rise buildings, said Jim Winston, the authority’s director of operations.
The high rises may be more susceptible to bed-bug transmission because of their concentration of apartments close to each other and because of their common areas, such as community rooms, he said.
“I just wish we didn’t have to deal with them. That’s unfortunate that people have to deal with bugs biting them. I don’t like people dealing with that, so we do address these immediately,” Winston said of bed-bug complaints.
When bed bugs are found in an apartment, that apartment and the apartments on either side of it and above and below it need to be treated, he said.
Winston said YMHA likely spent more than $30,000 on bed-bug treatment last year.
“The cost is outrageous,” Winston said. However, he added: “We are reducing the cost, just by education and awareness,” including information presented at resident council meetings.
“It’s something that comes and goes. We get like a rash of them [bed-bug complaints], but our biggest challenge is: People are not reporting to us. Then it gets a little out of control,” Winston said of the bed-bug problem.
“People don’t want to admit that they have bed bugs. ... People are ashamed, so our challenge is, one, getting it reported in time, and two is educating the residents” concerning bed-bug identification and prevention and remediation strategies, he said.
The authority does not charge its residents for bed-bug treatments, but it does not reimburse them for furnishings and other belongings that must be discarded due to bed-bug infestation, Winston said.
In other action, the board adopted a resolution and renamed its meeting room at Amedia Plaza in honor of Carmelita Douglas, its executive director, who will retire Feb. 28.
“I am really grateful for the 23 years of service that I have spent with YMHA’s family, and we are a family,” Douglas told the board Thursday during her last board meeting as executive director.
Jason Whitehead, the authority’s deputy executive director, will succeed Douglas.