Taking extreme measures
I found an interesting news story in the Toronto Star about a man who installed a hatch – very similar to those found on sailboats – in his door. Why did he install the hatch? He did it to prevent thousands of bed bugs living in his building from entering his Toronto residence.
According to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s protocol, infested mattresses should be wrapped in plastic before being removed from their units. The hallway of this man’s residence was lined with mattresses – some covered in hundreds of hungry bed bugs – infected and uncovered. The purpose of the plastic cover is to stop bugs from spreading outside of the infected unit. Not only has the infestation now spread into the hallway, but the mattresses unsightly.
Several of the neighbours came out to speak with the reporter when he visited. One tenant complained that her apartment had been sprayed 6 times in the 6 years she’d lived there, and she’d replaced her furniture 4 times. Another tenant reported that her unit would be getting sprayed in the coming weeks. She’s living next a hoarder – a tenant the others in the building have complained about often – and is afraid of having guests in her home.
The individuals who live in the building have put together a petition to have something done about the hoarder – to no avail. The hoarder needs help. He’s drowning in his own mess, being attacked by bed bugs – a problem that won’t disappear on its own – and living in his own filth. His unit is greatly affecting the health and wellbeing of those who live around him.
As for the man who installed the house, he’s taken some pretty extreme measures. His room is sealed tight. He dresses and undresses in the hallway, and only enters to protected room after he’s thoroughly inspected himself. His mattress is covered in a protective, plastic sheet. The legs of his bed are set in glass jars. And the hatch further secures his room from potential invaders.
The reporter took this information, as well as a gruesome video of the infested mattress, to TCHC in the hopes that something would be done. He’ll be reporting on this story again in a later column.
This leads me to ask a couple of obvious questions.
- What should the tenant of an infested building do?
- What can you do about an unclean or mentally ill neighbour, if anything?
As infestations get worse across Canada, these are issues that will arise again and again. It will be interesting to see how major cities – where large apartment complexes are the norm – will respond.