Bed bug infestation keeps USF student sleeping in car, university classroom

Woke up with large welts on arm, neck, chest
Posted at 6:13 PM, Sep 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-09 18:13:48-04

A University of South Florida doctorate student has been sleeping in her Nissan Altima and a university lab due to a bed bug infestation. 

Andrea Wright moved into Ascott Place Apartment Homes, located at 14003 Saulk Ct. in Tampa, in late August. 

She says a paranoia started to bug her right after moving in. 

"You almost feel like something is always on you," said Wright. 

Wright sent multiple pictures to ABC Action News of large welts on her forearm, neck, and chest. 

The bites come from blood-sucking bed bugs. 

Ascott Place management has sent an exterminator to her place two times. But it isn't solving Wright's pest problems. 

Wright showed ABC Action News multiple areas around her apartment that have black spots - remnants of a bed bug infestation. 

We also found countless dead, adult bed bugs in electrical outlets, behind the smoke detector, and in the closet. 

"They've been just nesting under the baseboards," Wright showed our camera. 

Conditions have gotten so bad, Wright now refuses to sleep in her own apartment. 

Thursday night she slept inside a University of South Florida science classroom. And she recently turned her car into a closest. 

"I tie the bags differently, so the clothes that haven't been treated, I wrap around," said Wright. 

The U.S. Navy Reservist is in her second year working toward a PhD in electrical engineering at USF. 

Wright said the infestation has taken a stressful toll on her school work. 

"I'm crying in my car," said Wright. "For the first time I feel homeless and with everything going on, I need to be down here for research." 

Another tenant next door told ABC Action News that he's delt with the same issue. 

Wright said management refused her request to move into another building and is now looking to move out of Ascott Place, but according to the housing contract, she will have to pay a hefty fee to break her lease. 

"There's a failure to maintain these properties with proper pest control because there has been a bed bug problem in this building," said Wright.  

In Florida, it is generally on the apartment to pay for extermination. 

But if the problem persists and the tenant wants out of their lease, Wright says the Ascott Place contract states tenants must pay one month's rent to be released. 

Ascott Place is owned by New York-based Maxx Properties. 

An on-site property manager refused to answer our questions about the infestation and multiple calls to the company's Florida regional manager have not been answered.