Housing Authority reports progress in fight against bedbugs

May 11—The addition of a staff member whose primary responsibilities are devoted to pest control has been instrumental in turning the tide in Meadville Housing Authority's war against bedbugs and other insects, officials said this week.

"It's made a big difference," said Assistant Maintenance Inspector Kyle Lynch following the authority's monthly meeting on Wednesday.

"It's very, very good news," Executive Director Vanessa Rockovich agreed.

The authority added a certified pesticide applicator to the maintenance staff in early January. Having a staff member dedicated to the task has allowed for more effective preparation before treatments, maximizing the effectiveness of the treatments, according to Rockovich. It has also enabled better follow-up and more responsive scheduling of pesticide applications.

In his report to board members, Lynch said eight units at Holland Towers are currently being treated along with two at William Gill Commons.

In December, Rockovich told the board that 23 Holland Towers units and seven at Gill Commons were undergoing treatment.

On Wednesday, Rockovich said that evictions also play a role in the authority's response to the infestation problems. Five evictions involving bedbug problems and housekeeping issues are underway at Holland Towers, according to Rockovich.

Since infestation problems became public due to a tenant protest in October 2021, board members, on several occasions, have cited noncompliant tenants as a major factor in the authority's inability to eradicate the problem.

The authority has also invested tens of thousands of dollars, moving from one pest control contractor to another, in an effort to address bedbugs and cockroaches in Holland Towers and Gill Commons primarily. In 2022, the authority spent nearly $42,000 on pest control efforts, officials have previously said. The following year, the authority spent approximately $7,000 in July alone as infestations spiked again. The authority had been spending $1,000 to $1,500 in more typical months.

Despite these efforts, bedbug problems continued. Holland Towers residents were notified in late January that the building's community room, where the board holds its meetings, would be closed from Jan. 25 to March 13 due to a bedbug infestation. The room was reopened in time for the authority's March meeting.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.