MANISTEE — Bed bugs are an ongoing problem at the Century Terrace apartment complex in Manistee.
A report was written by Griffin Pest Solutions, Inc., a company that contracts with the Manistee Housing Commission. It tracks times when specific units were sprayed, times when units could not be entered due to COVID-19 or other health issues and events at Century Terrace from January 2021 to July 2022.
The report was presented to the Manistee Housing Commission at its July meeting by Commission Executive Director Clinton McKinven-Copus.
Although the report only dates back to January 2021, the problem has been around for longer, McKinven-Copus said in a separate interview.
A replay of the July Housing Commission meeting can be viewed online along with this article at manisteenews.com
“Well, we’ve been dealing with pest control and bed bugs since 2015. And we keep device logs since we hired professional vendors to do it,” said McKinven-Copus.
He notes that since the housing authority hired pest control professionals, Griffin Pest Solutions keeps careful records which are then sent to McKinven-Copus.
“We have a history of which treatment was given in which unit. It is not about the names of the inhabitants, but only about a unit. And so over the years we know what treatments were received, whether there were infestations, what they were…we track all of that and we have copies of the service reports that were provided to us by Griffin Pest Management,” McKinven-Copus said .
The Manistee Housing Commission is responsible for overseeing senior and low-income housing in the city. It also oversees the commission’s real estate.
Unlike other local government entities, the Housing Commission is funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development at the federal level, and the Executive Director is accountable to the federal government.
Harborview Apartments and Century Terrace are low-income apartment complexes managed by the Manistee Housing Commission.
McKinven-Copus said the bed bug problem has not affected the Harborview Apartments and remains confined to Century Terrace.
According to website michgan.gov, “Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are experts at hiding for long periods of time without a blood meal.”
He said there are two types of treatments Griffin Pest Solutions uses for pest control: heat and chemicals based on messenger ribonucleic acid.
The Housing Commission has a contract with Griffin Pest Solutions for each unit in Century Terrace and Harborview to receive basic treatment for bed bugs and other pests four times a year, McKinven-Copus explained.
There are 119 units at Century Terrace and 48 at Harborview.
During the Manistee Housing Commission meeting on July 26, McKinven-Copus said the problem last got so bad in August of last year that “dogs would come by and they would sniff every single unit and every single area in the common area with beds in these.” (Units) were treated with a higher dose of mRNA treatment.”
He said the units were then re-inspected after 30 days and then another bed bug treatment was scheduled in all Century Terrace units and all public areas of the complex.
After the treatment there were no bed bugs. Unfortunately, the relief didn’t last long.
“Well, I’m guessing we didn’t have an issue for about a month, and then they showed up,” McKinven-Copus said.
What are bed bugs?
According to michigan.gov, “Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep,” states the state website. “Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slender, flat bodies allow them to fit into tight spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place when traveling.”
The state website also lists some signs of bed bugs.
“Many people react to bed bug bites with an itch, similar to a mosquito bite. However, bite reactions can vary from person to person, and some people do not react at all. Fortunately, bed bug bites have not been found to spread disease,” the website reads.
“Other signs of a bed bug problem may include: finding small wingless bugs in cracks and crevices around the bed, seeing small bloodstains or bed bug feces on the sheets, or finding bed bug eggs and/or skins. Not all bugs that you find in your bedroom are bed bugs – if you find a bug that you suspect is a bed bug, be sure to save it to show an expert.
The Michigan. The gov website says signs of a bed bug infestation are: “Finding small wingless bugs in cracks and crevices around the bed, seeing small stains of blood or bed bug feces on the bed linens, or finding bed bug eggs and/or skinning.
McKinven-Copus noted two things that must be done to successfully prevent bugs – but both must be done or it will not be successful.
“There are two main pillars to maintaining a low bed bug infestation rate. One is strong pest management, which we have and have had for many years,” McKinven-Copus said. “The second is the participation of apartment dwellers in keeping their apartments clean. Bugs and pests love clutter – and they especially love cardboard, magazines and newspapers. Most pests, and especially bed bugs, can lie dormant for several years.”
Problem with tenant
McKinven-Copus explained that under Michigan health and safety laws, bed bug treatment is ultimately the landlord’s responsibility. He also pointed out that tenants cannot be blamed.
However, he said one resident had a bed bug problem but did not notify management until the problem became very serious. The same resident also refused Griffin entry to treat bed bugs.
It got so bad that McKinven-Copus was able to get an eviction order for the tenant who refused entry. However, McKinven-Copus said a judge refused to evict the tenant.
He said that while the Housing Commission has the right to take action to file an eviction order, it cannot act without a judge’s approval.
He cautioned that failure to evict the resident could cause problems for the community at large.
“It’s a danger to the whole community because they ride the bus, they go to Meijer, they go to Family Fare … and if they refuse treatment, who knows what they’re carrying around,” McKinven-Copus said.
Karen Goodman, a member of the housing commission board, also noted that many residents of the complex are elderly and disabled, and some may not be able to fully understand the seriousness of the problem. McKinven-Copus claimed this was not the resident’s problem.
However, Goodman also pointed out that the bed bug problem goes beyond Century Terrace, the Housing Commission, and is a statewide problem that is not easy to fix.
“It’s all over our community, in multiple places, not just (in Century Terrace). … Sometimes, as an employer, you have to worry about people coming (to your place of work),” Goodman said.
McKinven-Copus said the Housing Commission is still looking into the issue. The next steps will take place this week, he said.
“This Friday we’re taking canines to Century Terrace for a full 100 percent checkup,” McKinven-Copus explained. “Right after the canines, all units that have canines marked as bed bug infested are classified into two categories: high infestation or low to moderate infestation.
“As soon as we can, after the dog inspection is complete, we will begin heat treatments and chemical treatments. We have Griffin Pest Control lined up to get started with right away. And we’re going to do that and go through the sessions until they’re done.”