By: Mike Anderson
Residents of Northview Court I, a subsidized seniors apartment building owned by Housing York Inc. in Sutton, are suffering from an on-going bed bug infestation that’s lasted nearly two years.
Now, together with family members, they are calling on Housing York to step up its efforts to resolve the problem, which has impacted their quality of life, and in some cases their health.
Shirley Heaps, 83, a resident who’s recovering from colon cancer surgery, has had her apartment treated five times since June 2019.
“My Nana is no horder. She buys first-hand items, never second-hand. And she’s the cleanest person I’ve ever met for 83,” said Ashley Loitsch, Ms. Heaps’ granddaughter, who helped set up her apartment after the most recent treatment.
Ms. Loitsch is upset that her grandmother has been placed under so much stress, which led, in part, to her being recently re-admitted to hospital.
“Imagine how difficult it is to watch your 83-year-old grandmother dealing with cancer and bed bugs at the same time.”
Ms. Heaps, like other residents, has also been left out of pocket.
Ms. Loitsch said they’ve had to throw out an infected bed and sofa, which cost her grandmother, who’s on a fixed income, more than $2000 to replace.
According to Ms. Loitsch, other residents, some without family support, have also suffered unnecessary hardships, including one woman who has been living out of a suitcase for six weeks after her last treatment – one of seven previous treatments – because Housing York didn’t arrange to help her set up her apartment, a service that is usually provided.
“My grandmother’s lucky because my mom and sister live in Sutton and Pefferlaw. I’m in Lindsay, but what about the people in that building that are elderly that don’t have any local family, is that right?”
Ms. Loitsch wants Housing York to redouble its efforts to resolve the infestation, including possibly treating the entire building.
“They’re not monitoring the situation, because they don’t do anything unless somebody is called. There’s also been no effort, to my knowledge, to locate the source of the infestation.”
“They have to deal with the infestation for the entire building. It’s spreading from apartment to apartment,” adds Miriam Mozes, 75, who’s unit is bug free, but knows other residents who’s units have been infested.
“If they did at least one floor a week, maybe they will find out who has it and who’s not dealing with it.”
Northview Court I, a 40-unit complex at 37 North Street, is one of five subsidized seniors apartment buildings owned and operated by Housing York in Georgina, which includes Northview Court II, which, according to the region, is bed bug free.
According to Housing York, there are currently four units in Northview Court I, undergoing treatment for beg bugs.
Since the first infestation was reported in late 2018, 13 units have received treatments for bed bug activity, while another 12 neighbouring units have also been treated.
“Housing York is currently implementing treatment plans at Northview. Recognizing that multiple treatments may be required in residents’ homes and that preparing for treatment is an extensive process,” said a spokesperson for Housing York.
“If the treatment plan does not resolve the issue, Housing York proceeds with more intensive investigation and testing in homes where no issues have been reported. We will work to ensure minimal impact on residents.”
But the spokesperson ruled out treating the entire building.
“Unfortunately it is not possible to treat the entire building as regulations governing bed bug treatment pesticides limit their use. We can treat infected and immediately adjacent units but we can’t preventatively treat an entire building.”
However, this claim is disputed by family members, who say that pest control contractors, hired by Housing York, have told them the whole building should be treated, instead of individual units.
“They said it’s useless for them to continue to come in and just do this apartment or that apartment, when all they’re doing is pushing the bed bugs into another one,” said Ms. Loitsch.
When contacted by The Post, Ward 4 Councillor Frank Sebo, while acknowledging the situation was unfortunate, declined to comment further stating that Mayor Margaret Quirk and Regional Coun. Rob Grossi were taking the lead on the issue.
Although Mayor Quirk, on behalf of family members, has raised the issue with Housing York, she also declined to comment.
However, Mr. Grossi suggests Housing York should consider changing its approach.
“I’m not sure about the logistics of trying to do the whole building. However, perhaps the process they currently use can be changed. Perhaps by moving the residents to temporary accommodations to help with the disturbance,” he said.
However, it appears Housing York will not entertain this option.
“Residents only have to be out of their units for six hours while chemical treatment is being done and it is safe for them to return to the unit once treatment is complete,” the spokesperson said.
“Pest control companies are not permitted to use chemicals even in vacant units if bed bugs are not detected, so even moving tenants temporarily would not mean we could treat the entire building or floor by floor.”
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