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HERKIMER HOUSING AUTHORITY

BED BUG POLICY

 

The Herkimer Housing Authority recognizes the potential problems that can arise out of bedbug infestations in public housing. Accordingly, the Herkimer Housing Authority adopts this policy in an effort to minimize bedbug infestations in its public housing, Housing Choice Voucher Program, and other owned affordable housing.

HOUSING AUTHORITY’S RESPONSIBILITIES

A. Management

  1. The Herkimer Housing Authority shall provide training to appropriate staff members regarding the identification, prevention, and eradication of bedbugs.

  1. The Herkimer Housing Authority shall make efforts to educate new and existing residents on methods that may be utilized in order to prevent and detect bedbugs. Such efforts may include written handouts distributed to all residents and public workshops for residents to attend (See sample handout attached to this policy).

  1. The Herkimer Housing Authority will keep a qualified pest control company under contract so they can be called on an “as needed” basis if internal staff are inadequate to deal with a bedbug infestation.

  1. The Herkimer Housing Authority shall keep written records of reports and incidents of bedbug infestation. Said records shall identify the dates, times and places of such reports or incidents.

B. Inspections

  1. If a resident reports the existence of bedbugs in his or her unit, the Herkimer Housing Authority shall within 24 hours make contact with the resident, provide the resident with information about control and prevention of bedbugs and discuss measures the resident may be able to take in the unit before an inspection is performed.

  1. Following a report of bedbugs, the Herkimer Housing Authority or a qualified third party trained in bedbug detection shall inspect the dwelling unit to determine if bedbugs are present. It is critical that inspections be conducted by trained staff or third-party professionals. Low level infestations may escape visual detection. For this reason, multiple detection tools, such as monitors containing attractants and canine detection may be utilized. The inspections shall occur within three business days of the resident report when possible.

  1. The inspection shall cover the unit reporting the infestation and no less than the adjoining apartment in a duplex or surrounding apartments consisting of the units above, below, left and right in a multifamily building if these units exist.

  1. If the initial inspection confirms the presence of bedbugs, the Herkimer Housing Authority will contact a licensed pest control company to treat the infestation. The length, method and extent of the treatment will depend on the severity and complexity of the infestation, and the level of cooperation of the residents. The resident may expect treatment to begin within five days of the inspection, though depending on the form of treatment and/or the availability of the contractor, this may not be possible. Residents should be advised that treatment may take several weeks and possibly several applications.

  1. If an infestation is suspected but cannot be verified, the Herkimer Housing Authority will re-inspect the unit(s) periodically over the next several months.

  1. If licensed pest control companies are unattainable within three calendar days, the Herkimer Housing Authority shall retain documentation of the efforts to obtain qualified services.

C. Additional Considerations

  1. The Herkimer Housing Authority will offer residents a service of inspection and/or non-chemical treatment of household items upon resident move-in and inspection and/or non-chemical treatment of used furniture if staff time and property budgets allow. Residents may voluntarily use such services, but the Herkimer Housing Authority will not require residents to do so. When offered, these services or products will be provided at the Herkimer Housing Authority’s expense.

  1. The Herkimer Housing Authority will not charge a resident to cover the cost of bedbug treatment; such costs shall be covered by the Herkimer Housing Authority. The only exception to this rule is if material supplied by the Herkimer Housing Authority to the resident to combat bedbugs or the possibility of bedbugs is lost or damaged due to an action by a resident or his or her guest.

D. Housing Choice Voucher Program

  1. The Herkimer Housing Authority does not have direct responsibility for bedbug removal in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Like all other maintenance and quality of life issues, they are the responsibility of the landlord. As stated in both the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract, landlords are responsible to ensure the dwelling unit and its equipment must be in sanitary condition and free of vermin and rodent infestation.

  1. If the HAP contract is violated, the cancelation process outlined in the Herkimer Housing Authority’s Administrative Plan will be followed.

RESIDENT RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. Under the terms of the Herkimer Housing Authority’s standard lease agreement, residents are required to “report any problem with infestation.” Accordingly, residents are strongly encouraged to report any suspected problems with bedbug infestation immediately. Residents are the first line of defense against bedbugs. Further, any willful failure on the part of a resident to report a bedbug infestation may result in adverse action taken against the resident, up to and including eviction. A resident reporting bedbugs may expect expeditious response and attention by the Herkimer Housing Authority, but should be advised that inspection and, if necessary, treatment of bedbugs may take time to schedule.

  1. Since clutter is a friend of bedbugs, residents will keep clutter in their homes to an absolute minimum.

  1. Residents are required to cooperate with the treatment efforts by allowing for heat treatment of clothing and furniture and refraining from placing infested furniture or other items in common areas such as hallways. Residents will not be reimbursed the cost of any additional expense to the household, such as the purchase of new furniture, clothing or cleaning services.

  1. Residents can easily unintentionally bring bedbugs onto the property when returning from a trip or bringing property into their homes. Therefore, residents will check their luggage and clothes whenever they return home from taking a trip and examine any secondhand items before bringing them home.

HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract requires the landlord to maintain the contract unit and its premises in accordance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS). If bedbugs are present, the landlord, as required by the HQS and HAP contract, must ensure that the dwelling unit and its equipment be in sanitary condition and free of vermin and rodent infestation. In order to comply with the HQS, if the presence of bedbugs is suspected, the landlord must notify the Herkimer Housing Authority immediately and it is strongly recommended that the landlord contact an extermination professional for an immediate inspection. If treatment is deemed necessary, a copy of the contract the landlord entered into with the pest control company (including all treatments to be performed and a schedule for the work) must be provided to Herkimer Housing Authority within two business days of initial determination that treatment is required. In addition, the landlord must notify the Herkimer Housing Authority when the eradication is complete.

  1. Failure of a landlord to comply with this policy is considered a violation of the HAP contract and may result in abatement, suspension or termination of housing assistance payments, termination of the HAP contract, and suspension of eligibility to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program.

HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PARTICIPANT RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. The HAP contract requires that residents keep the unit and its premises free from damage. Therefore, if the presence of bedbugs is suspected, it is the resident’s responsibility to notify both the landlord and the Herkimer Housing Authority immediately in order to minimize any potential damage to the unit. In addition, it is the responsibility of the resident to work cooperatively with the landlord and/or pest control company to ensure the successful elimination of bedbugs. Resident non-compliance may result in the loss of their Housing Choice Voucher.

  1. If the resident notifies the landlord of the presence of bedbugs and the landlord fails to take action within a reasonable period of time, the resident should notify Herkimer Housing Authority. Herkimer Housing Authority will assist the resident in relocation if it is deemed necessary and appropriate.

Prevention and Safe Removal of Bedbugs

Bedbug infestations have become a serious problem in housing throughout the country. Public Housing properties are not immune to infestations, anyone or any home can get bedbugs. Bedbugs live on human and animal blood and typically hide and live in cracks and crevices in dark and undisturbed locations close to their hosts. They can live for long periods of time and although visible to the naked eye, they may be difficult to detect.

Bedbug Prevention Action Plan

  • Inspect in and around sleeping and resting areas at home once a month.

  • Look for signs of bedbug activity, active infestations will have fecal spotting, live or dead bedbugs, shed skins and bedbug eggs.

  • Avoid used furniture and mattresses, especially discarded furniture and mattresses.

Used furniture and refurbished mattresses may have bedbugs and bedbug eggs that are difficult to see.

  • Inspect for the signs of bedbugs when traveling away from home. Look for live or dead bedbugs, shed bedbug skins or bedbug eggs and fecal spots on mattresses, clothing or dark cracks and crevices. Wood, metal or plastic furniture, sofas, chairs, tables and many other items may be infested with bedbugs.

  • If contact with an active bedbug infestation is suspected away from home, segregate and isolate in sealed plastic bags any exposed luggage, clothing and personal effects until inspection and decontamination can be completed.

  • Bedbugs prefer to live in cracks and crevices in areas like baseboards, moldings, window/door frames, and cracks/seams in walls and furniture, especially headboards and bed frames and screw holes.

  • Seal baseboards, cracks, crevices, heat, plumbing and electrical services shared between apartments with pest-proofing sealants.

  • Encase mattresses and box springs. Seal box springs in an appropriate zippered encasement to prevent bedbugs hiding inside from escaping; this location is commonly affected in bedbug infestations and yet difficult to inspect.

  • Thoroughly vacuum apartment, furniture and all belongings and use crevice tools and other attachments where feasible. Place the contents of the vacuum in a tightly sealed disposable bag and remove.

EARLY DETECTION IS CRITICAL Early identification and reporting of infestations by residents to building management and neighbors limits the spread of bedbugs. As soon as possible contact xxxxxxxx. Report the suspected activity as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more likely the problem is to spread and the more difficult and costly it will be to control.

Bedbug Removal Action Plan

The following sequence of steps has been outlined by the Armed Forces Pest Management Board in order to facilitate control of bedbugs in housing. They are an example. We will follow the protocols outlined by our pest control company.

  • Using a vacuum cleaner (preferably HEPA-filtered), remove the bugs and their cast skins from all observed and suspected harborage sites during the initial inspection, and periodically afterward (once weekly is a suggested self-help action). The vacuum bag should

be removed immediately afterward, sealed tightly inside a larger plastic bag, and that bag incinerated or placed in the next normal trash collection.

  • Launder all infested cloth items in hot water, 120 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter for at least 10 minutes, with soap or detergent, then dry in a warm or hot dryer of at least 140 degrees for at least 20 minutes, or dry clean to kill all bedbug life stages present.

  • Enclose each mattress and box spring in a sealed plastic cover, like those sold commercially. These types of encasements should be of high quality and bedbug puncture proof to limit exposure to house dust mites or bedbugs.

  • Place and seal all recently laundered cloth items (e.g., bed linens, clothing) inside new large plastic bags or tightly closed bins to prevent any bedbugs from re-infesting them.

  • Seal shut all cracks, crevices, and entry points to wall voids, using a high-quality silicone-based sealant, especially within a 20 foot radius of any spot where bedbug bites have been reported, or where the bugs have actually been collected.

  • Additional or alternative physical control measures against bedbugs may include: heat, cold, steam, physical mashing and sticky insect monitors.

  • A residual insecticide should be applied, according to label directions, to each infested site and preferably to a small area around each site. Such applications often involve treating cracks and crevices. When planning and conducting any such treatments, consider examining, if not treating, the opposite side of any involved wall, floor or ceiling.

  • Electrical outlet boxes, and similar voids that cannot be readily sealed, should be treated with an appropriately labeled insecticidal dust.

  • Consider including some type of insect growth regulator (IGR) as a concurrent or adjunctive treatment (e.g., as a tank mix).

  • Limited use of an aerosol or ULV pyrethroid may facilitate the detection of hidden bedbugs by causing them to move around more, and may also potentially increase their exposure to any previously applied residual insecticide. DO NOT use any over-the-counter “foggers.” They are not very effective and may cause bedbugs to scatter.

  • Fumigation or heat (or cold) treatment of batches of furniture, clothing or other items within chambers may be warranted and affordable in specific cases, but whole-structure fumigation to control bedbugs is seldom practical or economically feasible. And such treatments provide no residual effects at all.

  • Re-inspection of infested structures and sites should be done about 10-21 days after any initial treatment, and (if needed) again about 10-21 days later, to detect, and to precisely target the treatment (if needed) of any continued infestation.1

Carefully reintroduce cleaned items. Isolate and contain items that have been properly cleaned, laundered or heat treated. Heavy duty plastic bags or air tight containers may be used for this purpose. Clear bags and containers are preferable.

NEVER USE THE FOLLOWING PRODUCTS FOR BEDBUG TREATMENT:

Insecticide “bombs”, total release foggers, camphor, kerosene, diesel, gasoline, alcohol or other similar products. These products can cause serious health problems. They are dangerous if misused and can cause fires and explosions. These products are not appropriate for bedbug management.