Residents concerned over bed bugs in Lawton

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Bed bugs. They’re your worst nightmare they bite, they’re gross, and they’re hard to get rid of.

This is what residents at one Lawton apartment complex said they’ve had to deal with for years.

Cherita Young, is former military who has spent time with her uncle at the apartment complex since he moved in 10 years ago.

Since then, she has volunteered with the elderly that live there, and has continually heard residents complain about bed bugs.

She said her uncle has to be careful when he leaves the apartments and uses this spray to avoid transferring the bed bugs.

“He has to spray it on his clothes and his shoes before he goes somewhere so that he doesn’t transfer it to the city bus,” said Young.

The building has 150 units and is run by the Lawton Housing Authority. Executive Director Rita Love said this is nothing new.

“Bed bugs have been a problem for at least 10 years here and not only here but all over the United States in the world,” said Love.

Love said they have trained staff and a contractor who either sprays chemicals or use an 8-hour heating treatment.

The High Rise has a policy in place stating that after a tenant has needed treatment three times they risk being evicted.

“The residents are who are bringing the bed bugs in, the high rise doesn’t have bed bugs, it’s going to be, they come in on their furniture, it can come in on their clothes, but yes we have a policy,” she said.

I spoke to owner and certified entomologist Chad Highley, of Environmental Pest Control about the use of heat treatments.

“The problem with heat is you cannot raise the temperature of a structure fast enough to capture them before they scurry off into a safe hiding place,” said Highley.

Young said she’s heard residents say they are afraid to speak up for fear of being evicted. They would rather deal with the problem than be homeless.

She said many people come in and out of the building, making it easy to transfer bed bugs from one place to another.

This can lead to another problem, many residents require home health visits.

“There are health care workers who refuse and will tell you they refuse to go inside this building by the bed bug problem that is going on. I had a health care worker come out and she saw one on her leg and she said I’ll never come back here,” said Young.

Young said she’s spoken to the Housing Authority about her concerns, but hasn’t been able to find an acceptable resolution.

“It makes us as Americans, the United states, and the City of Lawton look bad, that we are not taking care of our elderly and mentally ill.”

Young said she wanted to see a solution prioritizing the wellbeing of residents.