Residents say bedbug problem continues

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Several residents at O.W. Collins Apartments are continuing to deal with a bedbug problem they say has continued to plague the facility even after weekly sprayings.
“This place, they need to fumigate the entire building,” one female resident, who asked not to be named, said while seated outside at a gazebo area. “They (management) are doing their job, but if you wait too long, it compounds. It won’t go away with a couple of sprays. This didn’t just happen.”
A male resident in his “upper 50s” said he moved in in August last year, his furniture was checked and he did not have a bedbug problem. By February that changed.
“They somehow got into my apartment,” the man said.
O.W. Collins Apartments, 4440 Gulfway Drive, is described as a high rise community for the near elderly, age 50 and over, and the elderly, age 62 and older. The facility serves low income tenants and there are 201 units at the property.
ITEX Property Management President Chris Akbari said they were made aware of the issue in February and are working to keep the situation under control. Treatments are done weekly.
But periodically the infestation is bad enough to warrant tossing the offending piece of furniture. Port Arthur City Coucilmember Tiffany Hamilton, he said, often works with tenants who lost furniture.
Akbari believes the bedbug issue is under control and he thanked the tenants for their patience.
The City of Port Arthur Health Department worked with tenants and property management on the bedbug issue in February, even though bedbugs are not considered a reportable problem.
“We dealt with them in February, and actually there have been no complaints since then,” City of Port Arthur Health Director Judith Smith said. “We don’t oversee bedbugs. If this was a roach or rat problem, we’d have to enforce that something be done. Even though we can’t enforce the problem, we met with the property manager and asked them to give us a plan of corrective action, and they did. Environmental inspectors were communicated with and even with pest control just to see what they were doing.”
A second male resident sitting outside, who also asked not to be named, as well as a woman, worry about the discarded, bedbug ridden furniture that’s been tossed.
“People pick up furniture out of the trash,” the second man said while pointing to a trash area beyond a metal fence adjacent to the property at the Central Maintenance Facility for the Port Arthur Housing Authority, 4430 Gulfway Drive. The land is closed to the public behind a locked fence.
There is also an area at the back of the facility that had two couches, a recliner and other pieces of furniture stacked up next to a dumpster.
These dumping areas need to be cleaned more frequently to keep from bringing the infestation back into the facility, the woman said.
“If the trash (and furniture) are removed in a timely manner, it will help eliminate the problem,” she said.
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