Home Bed Bugs Residents involved over mattress bugs in Lawton

Residents involved over mattress bugs in Lawton

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LAWTON, Oklahoma (KSWO) — Bed bugs. They’re your worst nightmare, they bite, they’re gross and they’re hard to get rid of.

It’s what the residents of an apartment complex in Lawton have had to deal with for years.

Cherita Young, a former military man who has been spending time with her uncle at the apartment complex since moving in 10 years ago.

Since then, she has volunteered with the elderly living there and has repeatedly heard residents complain about bed bugs.

She said her uncle had to be careful when leaving the apartments and using this spray to avoid spreading the bed bugs.

“He has to spray it on his clothes and his shoes before he goes anywhere so he doesn’t transfer it to the city bus,” Young said.

The building has 150 units and is operated by the Lawton Housing Authority. Executive Director Rita Love said this is nothing new.

“Bed bugs have been a problem here for at least 10 years, and not just here, but throughout the United States around the world,” Love said.

Love said they have trained staff and a contractor who either sprays chemicals or does an 8-hour heat treatment.

The High Rise has a policy stating that if a tenant has had three treatments, they risk eviction.

“Residents bring in the bed bugs, the high-rise doesn’t have bed bugs, it will, they get on their furniture, it can get on their clothes, but yes, we have a policy,” she said.

I spoke to Environmental Pest Control’s owner and certified entomologist, Chad Highley, about using heat treatments.

“The problem with heat is that you can’t ramp up a structure’s temperature fast enough to capture it before it scoots to a safe hideout,” Highley said.

Young said she overheard local residents say they were afraid to speak out for fear of eviction. They would rather deal with the problem than be homeless.

She said many people enter and exit the building, making it easy to transmit bed bugs from one location to another.

This can lead to another problem, many residents need home visits.

“There are healthcare workers who refuse and will tell you they refuse to enter this building because of the bed bug problem that is ongoing. I had a healthcare worker come out and she saw one on her leg and she said I’m never coming back here,” Young said.

Young said she spoke to the housing authority about her concerns but was unable to find an acceptable resolution.

“It makes us as Americans, the United States and the city of Lawton look bad that we don’t care about our elderly and the mentally ill.”

Young said she wanted to see a solution that prioritized the well-being of residents.