GARY - Mayor Rudy Clay Tuesday promised to
"declare war on bedbugs" infesting a senior citizen high rise.
Residents said a swarm of city officials
descended on the Al Thomas High Rise, on 11th and Broadway, one day
after The Post-Tribune published a story on the residents' daily
struggle against bedbugs and other pests, such as cockroaches and
"It looked like the whole city of Gary came
down here, and you couldn't find a parking space on 11th Avenue,"
said resident Beverly Johnson. "It was a whole slew of them, and
they even brought the exterminator."
Last week, the residents shared horror stories
of insect problems and showed glass and plastic jars holding living
and dead bedbugs collected from their beds and furniture. They also
complained about poor living conditions in the building, which is
owned and operated by the Gary Housing Authority.
The residents said they have complained to GHA
officials to no avail, but GHA Director Alfreda Peterson last week
promised to attack the insect infestations.
She promised to bring in an extermination
contractor that likely would try to clean the building out floor by
floor. Last week, Peterson also said the agency has continually
tried to educate residents on how to handle the bug problem.
Peterson could not be reached for comment
Clay, who built most of his political career
by wooing senior citizens' votes, said the conditions will be fixed
"on my watch."
"We're taking a new attitude at the GHA,
fixing up these buildings for our senior citizens to live
comfortable," Clay said. "I don't want to point fingers at anyone.
I just want to get it done, and we're going to leave no stone
Johnson said city officials were short on
details, but residents welcomed the renewed attention.
"It was an emergency meeting, and (officials)
said they're going to clean things up," she said. "We're going to
see what happens, but (Clay) was not pleased with the
The GHA recently ended its contract with
Chicago-based Woodlawn Development Corp., a controversial agency
that managed most of the GHA's properties.
The resulting gap in coverage has meant a lull
in the ongoing war on pests in GHA properties, according to