Bed Bugs Infest Government Housing for Seniors
Friday, July 27, 2012

SEGUIN, TX - A bed bug infestation inside government housing for seniors has residents fighting back.

The tenacious insects moved into the Walnut Springs Tower a few months ago.

The seniors started collecting bags of dead bugs to learn more about the enemy. They say if you want to fight the two B's - bed bugs - you need the two E's: exterminators and education.

The bed bugs moved in on the eighth floor, and the tiny tenants quickly spread to Lola Taubert's second-floor apartment.

"I called my daughter that day and I said, 'Debbie, I've found bed bugs in my bed,'" she says. "That's the first time I've heard of these things since I was a kid, and I'm 85 years old."

Taubert tried the old standby: grocery-store repellents and sprays.

"This was probably $11 or $12," she says while pointing to a bottle.

The Seguin Housing Authority quickly called in exterminators.

"We're not charging them for any of the inspections and it usually runs between $750 and $1,000 an apartment," executive director Cathy Jackson says.

She says the Seguin Housing Authority is picking up the bill to lessen the burden on the elderly residents, who are all on fixed incomes.

Jackson says any chairs, mattresses or clothing found with bed bugs were thrown out.

"We had to empty all the closets, all the drawers, wash all the stuff, package it up in bags, run it through the hot dryer," Taubert says.

Her bed is bed-proofed with a special white casing.

"They said if there were any in there, left in there on the bed, that the stuff didn't kill, they will die in that," she says.

Taubert is constantly checking her surroundings for bed bugs.

"There's something on the bed," she notices. "I don't know what it is."

Now Taubert and her neighbors are bringing back that childhood motto: don't let the bed bugs bite.

The Seguin Housing Authority says all the items found with bed bugs were tagged so, for example, if a passerby saw a couch by a dumpster, that person would know not to take it.

Residents have also been warned about washing any clothes they buy from garage sales, just in case.