Bedbugs are growing problem – QNS.com

Bedbugs are growing problem

Local politicians are racking their brains to think up the best way to bite back our city's scourge of bed bugs, which was highlighted earlier this year by an exclusive Queens Courier cover story.
So far this year bed bug complaints have risen over 450 percent according to the Department of Housing and Preservation (DHP) to 4,638 calls in 2006 over the year before.
Councilmember Gale Brewer held a public hearing, calling on local residents, city agencies, and anyone else to put in their two cents about the infestation.
Brewer had proposed legislation that would create a task force to beat the bugs and ban the resale of used mattresses, an idea that could have been upgraded to include all used furniture, but city officials said that this may not be the answer.
&#8220The DCA [Department of Consumer Affairs] lacks the information that would enable it to reach a sound judgment about whether banning the sale of used mattresses would materially impact the spread of these pests,” said Andrew Eiler, the Director of Legislation for the DCA, during the meeting.
Eiler went on to say that banning the resale of used mattresses, however, would put a hardship on low-income consumers.
During Eiler's testimony, he also said that a method to sanitize mattresses had been considered by the State 10 years ago, but had never been adopted, and Brewer said after the meeting that she planned to contact the State to see if these guidelines could be adopted.
&#8220It's clear that there is not a lot of oversight over the second hand mattress industry,” she said. &#8220At the very least, there has to be a lot more oversight.”
Brewer said that she is also still working on how to combat the spread of bed bugs during mattress loading and unloading from delivery trucks, a problem that The Queens Courier brought to her attention last year.
In addition, she hopes that along with the City's Consumer Affairs Committee, which hosted the public hearing, the group could determine a set of guidelines for who would foot the bill - residents or landlords.
Many of the calls that she receives are also from low-income neighborhoods, where residents and landlords often don't have the funds to pay for costly exterminations.
Since taking up the torch to illuminate the growing epidemic, Brewer said she has received countless calls on the issue, particularly from the Elmhurst and Jackson Heights neighborhoods in Queens even though she is a Manhattan representative.
In addition, a Yahoo website dedicated solely to the creepy blood-sucking critters got the most hits of any website that the search engine had created.
&#8220That's just the tip of the iceberg,” Brewer said.
&#8220I hope that the city realizes that this [the bed bug problem] is very frightening,” she said, after the meeting finished. &#8220It's not death, but mental health wise it is very frightening.”
Brewer said that the date, time and location for the next hearing had not yet been scheduled, but in the meantime, she planned to investigate the State's authoritative role over the resale of used mattresses.
&#8220We are going to meet too with the legal staff and try to redraft a new bill,” she said.

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