LAKELAND, Fla. — The Housing Authority of Lakeland says its senior residents are partly to blame for a bed bug infestation.
ABC Action News discovered on Thursday that people living at the Renaissance at Washington Ridge apartments had been dealing with a bed bug problem since early April.
Lakeland’s code enforcement reported the complaints and documented multiple units as having bed bugs.
Since then, the Housing Authority of Lakeland says they have tried to rid the apartments of the pests.
“I’d like to think we’ve tried very hard by bringing a professional pest control company on multiple occasions,” Benjamin Stevenson said. He thought the problem had long been resolved and was surprised when told that was not the case.
The Housing Authority of Lakeland says it has cleaned, sprayed, and even used a bug-sniffing dog to locate the pests to take care of the problem.
“I think he might’ve found one, in one unit,” Stevenson says.
But according to code enforcement, as of Friday morning, the problem has not been resolved.
In fact when ABC Action News visited the apartment complex the day before, bugs were present and residents were still worried about the infestation.
“Every single one of the rooms that code enforcement visited, there are visible signs of bed bugs,” Kevin Cook with the City of Lakeland, said.
Pictures by code enforcement show bed bugs in all different places, and multiple living together.
The Housing Authority of Lakeland said they didn’t know about a recurring problem since then.
“That’s news to me. I’ll have to check into that see what’s going on,” Stevenson said.
The city says the bottom line is that the bugs have to go, no matter how many times the Housing Authority has tried to get rid of them.
“Bed bugs aren’t fun. It isn’t how many times you’ve tried to clean it up, it has to be cleaned up,” Cook said.
The Housing Authority admitted this isn’t the first issue with the Renaissance at Washington Ridge.
Stevenson said they deal with an infestation about once a year and says residents are partly to blame because of hoarding, dumpster diving and other uncleanly habits.
Stevenson also said senior residents tend to be paranoid about such issues.
“It’s like any other rumor, or if someone says there are bugs everywhere and so everybody’s going to believe that,” Stevenson said.
There is a hearing scheduled at the beginning of July to ensure the Housing Authority is in compliance and has resolved the issue.
This means zero bed bugs, dead or alive.
“So we have to bring another professional bed bugs specialist out there, I mean of course we will do that,” Stevenson said.
If the problem is not resolved by the hearing date, the city will begin citing the Housing Authority of Lakeland $250 per day until it is cleaned up.