Troubleshooter: We pushed; now bedbugs don't bite

Staff WriterOctober 27, 2010 

It's time for two Troubleshooter updates.

Joe Hernandez has a new apartment after the Triangle Troubleshooter wrote about his bedbug infestation a few weeks ago.

Hernandez said The Landings, off Six Forks Road in North Raleigh, gave him a new, bigger apartment and $1,500 to buy new furniture. He moved in last weekend.

Hernandez had contacted The N&O and Jung Kim, a bedbug specialist with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to inspect his apartment. Hernandez said the complex had delayed his move-in several times claiming a roach infestation, and that apartment employees weren't addressing the bedbugs properly.

Kim confirmed a "higher than moderate" bedbug infestation and photographed black marks on the ceilings - bedbug fecal matter, he said.

On the basis of the amount of fecal matter, Kim said the apartment was already infested when Hernandez moved in. The complex had Hernandez throw out most of his furniture.

Oftentimes, apartment complexes don't do the necessary bedbug treatment because it can cost $800 to $1,500, Kim said. To really get rid of bedbugs, you need chemicals and heat treatment, he said.

At first, the complex and its owner, NALS Apartment Homes, were wary of the media. The Landings property manager told me to leave her office when I asked her about Hernandez's bedbugs. I made a mistake in today's print edition. A NALS manager did call after the original story ran and said apartment employees were handling the issue.

But the "landlord has an obligation to maintain a healthy living condition, free of pests and varmints," according to Jack Holtzman, an attorney with N.C. Justice Center, who specializes in housing law.

Legal Aid, a state program that provides free legal services to low-income people in civil matters, agreed to take Hernandez's case.

But Hernandez said that shortly after The N&O article ran, complex officials made him the offer, and he never had to use Legal Aid.

Here's hoping the new apartment is pest-free and good sleep awaits.

Mold problem still plagues Horizon

Two weeks ago, I asked you to brainstorm how we could help Horizon Health Center deal with its mold problem.

The center, which provides routine health care for the homeless in Wake County, either has to move from its 1970s stucco building on Tarboro Street in Southeast Raleigh or renovate. Yet Horizon, which gets money through federal, county and city grants, doesn't have the money for either.

The plea generated lots of conversations, but nothing is set, according to Cindy Sink, Horizon's spokeswoman.

"Am I excited about it? Do I think there's a possibility there? Absolutely," Sink said. "It's definitely been helpful."

Sink has talked with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, which could provide building volunteers. She also will submit a proposal to the Home Builders of Raleigh-Wake County remodelers council, which picks one nonprofit group for a project each year.

In addition, the center received about $350 in donations for homeless health care.

The other good news is that the city of Raleigh has given the center extra time to come up with a plan.

I'll keep my line open for more of your ideas. This is a community issue, and I hope we can come together and solve it.

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