Habitat for Humanity receives the proceeds of all used furniture sales from their stores. But some of that furniture is being blamed for carrying bed bugs to a low income housing complex in Hagerstown, MD. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of and carry a stigma. They are associated with being dirty, but as this story tells, anyone can be the victim of bed bugs. Are bug beds only in beds? No. Although they prefer your bed because they spend their waking time sucking the blood of those asleep, they can be found in carpeting and among clothing, for example. Are bed bugs more active at night? Yes. That’s one reason why they tend to go unnoticed at first. They’re out feeding when the rest of us are sleeping. Are you able to see bed bugs? Yes. But you need to look for them at night with a keen eye. Some at home remedies to get rid of bed bugs include extremely high heat, replacing infested furniture, removing clutter and vacuuming infested areas, washing all clothing and bedding in hot water, and spraying rubbing alcohol on infested areas.
Bedbugs are getting out of hand in Hagerstown, MD, and the Hagerstown Housing Authority is placing the blame on used furniture.
Ted Shankle, Executive Director of the Housing Authority, told the Daily Record that he believes the bugs hitch a ride on used furniture that tenants of the authority’s 1,200 housing units scavenge or purchase at a discount.
With the average price to furnish a living room sitting at $15,630, it’s no wonder that the low-income residents of the units try to cut costs, but the used furniture is taking its toll. Bedbug eradication in public housing costs the Housing Authority $100,000 a year, and the agency even has a dedicated staffer who liaises with exterminators.
Even with these measures, Shankle said the agency has been trying to eradicate bedbug infestations for four years now. They’ve even had to evict tenants who refused to grant exterminators access to their apartments.
If used furniture really is causing bedbug infestations, the Housing Authority still has a long job ahead of it. Most residents of public housing don’t have the option to buy new furniture, and used furniture options are only expanding.
Just last month, the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity opened a second ReStore location in Montgomery County. ReStore offers gently-used antiques, furniture items and building supplies at a discount to its customers.
Truck drivers pick up donated items and deliver them to ReStore five days a week, and the staff of the shop sells the items at half the market value. The goal is to offer discounts while reducing the amount of reusable materials that end up in landfills. Proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity to support its mission of renovating low-income housing.
Low-income families may have a better chance of avoiding bed bugs by shopping at reputable businesses like ReStore. Kentucky Wisewood, a Louisville business that makes furniture out of reclaimed barn wood, also makes sure its furniture is clear of bugs.
Until low-income housing residents are made aware of the dangers of bedbugs, and encouraged to buy used furniture from stores that check for these pests, it’s unlikely the infestations will go away.
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