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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

Press Release # 01-08
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seth McM. Donlin (212) 863-5176


Intended to Educate the Public on the Growing Problem of Bedbug Infestation and the Various Measures Necessary to Prevent Their Continued Spread

Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Gale Brewer today announced a series of three local seminars aimed at educating the public about the growing problem of bedbug infestation throughout the City. The seminars, the first of which will be held at Columbia University Medical Center in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, will address ways to identify the nocturnal insects, low-cost methods of dealing with an infestation and the various responsibilities of tenants, landlords and the City’s Department of Housing Preservations and Development (HPD). The seminars will be conducted by members of HPD’s Housing Education staff.

Bedbug infestations have been on the rise throughout the country and New York City has seen a nearly fourfold increase in complaints over the last two fiscal years. In Fiscal Year 2007 alone, the City’s 311 hotline received nearly 7,000 bedbug related complaints and HPD housing inspectors issued over 2,000 violations to building owners all across the City. By comparison, Fiscal Year 2004 saw only 1,800 complaints and less than 400 violations issued. HPD, as the enforcer of the City’s Housing Maintenance Code, conducts inspections and issues violations but does not provide extermination services.

“While bedbugs are not known to spread disease, their bites leave large, itchy skin welts that can be a considerable nuisance,” said Commissioner Donovan. “If you find even one bedbug in your apartment, you should immediately inform your landlord, managing agent or super so that they may arrange for an inspection and, if necessary, extermination by licensed pest control professionals.”

"Whenever we are faced with a widespread problem like bedbugs, the best thing we can do is get New Yorkers the information they need to help us put a stop to it," said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.  "When they make their way into a home, people must know how to get rid of these pests.  These classes will give us the opportunity to inform residents about what they can do if they discover bedbugs in their apartments."

Council Member Brewer stated, “As the sponsor of legislation to try to prevent this infestation of bedbugs, I am keenly aware of the unbelievable stress that having bedbugs in your home, school, or workplace puts on people.” Brewer continued, “Bedbugs may not be a medical health issue, but their presence causes a mental health problem. Being bitten by bed bugs at night impact’s a person’s job performance by day, and is often a financial hardship. How do you get rid them? What is the cost? Who pays? What research is being done to determine how they can be eradicated forever? I look forward to the HPD and City Council hearings, and stand ready to continue to fight these frightening pests.”

"The childhood refrain of ‘good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’ has an irritating reality for families who have experienced bedbugs in their own homes,” said Council Member Robert Jackson. “This public education campaign is aimed at prevention and swift extermination of these pests—just cleaning sheets and clothing once will not eliminate the problem. The City Council and HPD stand united to address this serious problem."

"Bed Bugs do not discriminate and we must do everything we can to stop the spread of the epidemic in our city,” said Council Member Miguel Martinez. “Consumers must be educated about buying used mattresses and of the signs to look for when bitten by the bedbug.  The public’s education is desperately needed." 

"The bed bugs epidemic is one that is adversely affecting all sectors of our community,” said Council Member Diana Reyna. “This issue deserves our full and undivided attention.  Educating the community is the first step towards ensuring the safety, proper management and elimination of this problem.  A well-informed resident is a safe resident."

"Bedbugs are a persistent problem in our city, and we must do what we can to help eradicate this nasty pest from our homes. New Yorkers should feel better that not only their streets but also their beds are safe," said Council Member Peter F. Vallone Jr. "I look forward to working with HPD to get this problem under control, allowing residents to literally sleep better at night."

The first seminar is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 28 from 6PM to 8PM at the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, 1st floor conference room, Columbia University Medical Center, 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue (at 168th Street) in Manhattan.

The second seminar is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 5 from 8PM to 9PM at Ricardo’s Catering Hall, 21-01 24th Avenue in Astoria, Queens.

The final seminar is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 12 from 6PM to 8PM at the Hope Gardens Senior Center, 195 Linden Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Anyone interested in attending any of these seminars is encouraged to call (212) 863-8830 to reserve a space. Translation services will be provided for Spanish-speaking members of the public.



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