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October 21, 2010

Developing the War Against Bed Bugs:
Educate, Organize & Eradicate by Using Safe & Non-Toxic Measures


Training participants learn everything you need to know about bed bugs at the CES office.

Products to help prevent bed bug infestation are offered at the training by a vendor.
They're in the news almost every day.  They’re bed bugs and the infestation of these nasty pests are growing from one end of the country to the other.

The issue lies in the fact that they're easily spread through travel and can be transported home in suitcases, backpacks, computer bags and other personal belongings.  Anywhere furniture is shared or redistributed, the risk of bed bugs is high. College dorms, nursing homes, hotels, offices and apartment buildings are just some of the places bed bugs thrive.

Unfortunately, tenants, landlords, homeowners and exterminators are turning to hazardous chemicals that can harm the central nervous system, irritate skin and eyes, trigger asthma and exacerbate attacks or even cause cancer to wipe these pests out. But, the fact is that not only are these pesticides dangerous, they don't work.

Bed Bug Training

On October 19, 2010, the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) hosted a training sponsored by the Healthy Homes Collaborative, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Safer Pest Control Project entitled, "Beating Back Bed Bugs: Everything You Need to Know About Bed Bugs."

A Green Shield Certified pest control professional company provided information on how to safely eradicate bed bugs.
Over 50 people including LA County Health Department Officials, LA Housing Department Officials, LA City Council Member Tom LaBonge’s staff, tenant organizers, health promoters and hotel workers’ union officials attended the training to learn about the cause of the infestation, ways to prevent or limit bed bug problems, how to eradicate bed bugs using pest control professionals that use safe and non-toxic measures and what government needs to do to address this crisis.

CES Organizes Tenants to Combat Bed Bugs

CES has been assisting tenants dealing with bed bugs throughout the L.A. area.

One example is a building a building on Harvard Blvd in the Wilshire Center/Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Tenants being tormented by bed bugs at the 40-unit complex reached out to CES for help. 

A Plan of Action is Developed

CES Lead Organizer Carlos Aguilar (right) explains to Harvard Blvd. tenants on the need to organize.
CES organizers first met with a few tenant leaders who stated the infestation was widespread and that management was not being responsive. An organizing plan was developed which included going door-to-door to talk to all the tenants.

A petition addressing management’s responsibility and lack of response was drafted which was signed by 80% of the building’s tenants and sent to the owner and to LA Council Member Tom LaBonge who represents the area.

A building-wide tenant meeting was organized attended by a LA Housing Department Code Enforcement Inspector who is assisting in addressing other outstanding housing and habitability violations an the property.

Cooperation to Tackle the Problem is Achieved

The organized tenant activity resulted in the management recognizing that residents would no longer accept superficial unsuccessful responses. Management finally agreed to work together with the tenants and CES on finding a solution for their bed bug problems. 

CES is now assisting them in identifying a Green Shield Certified pest control professional who can treat the infestation without the use of harsh chemicals and pesticides that can negatively affect the tenants health.

In addition, the Healthy Homes Collaborative has been instrumental in assisting CES and the tenants in implementing a non-toxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to eradicating other pests, such as roaches, in the building.

Harvard Blvd. tenant tells his neighbors that they must unite together to ensure success in getting their bed bug infestation and housing code violations addressed by their landlord.


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