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Foss: Bedbugs often a nuisance to the poor

Foss: Bedbugs often a nuisance to the poor

Insects a problem in Schenectady
Foss: Bedbugs often a nuisance to the poor
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHENECTADY — Bedbugs are in the news this week, thanks to reports that a bedbug was discovered at the Schenectady County Department of Social Services building. 

While a county spokesman denied that the building has a significant problem with bedbugs, the same can't be said of the apartments where many lower-income renters live. 

In my interviews with low-income renters, bedbugs are commonly cited as a problem. 

FOSS: Finding housing isn't easy when you're poor

They aren't considered something that makes an apartment or building uninhabitable, but they are certainly a nuisance. One Schenectady resident, Joe Lewis, showed me red stains on his mattress that he claimed were caused by bedbugs. 

Deb Schimpf, the executive director of the Schenectady Community Action Program, a non-profit organization that helps needy people find housing, said that bedbugs are pervasive in the city of Schenectady and require regular treatments to keep them at bay. 

"Maybe two or three years ago, we would say, 'It's on the rise, it's escalating,'" Elise Martin, a SCAP employee, told me. These days, bedbugs are just one of the many problems low-income renters can expect to encounter. 

"We can have tenants who have been in a house with no bedbugs for two years," Martin said. "And then boom! They have bedbugs." 

It's not a problem we always hear a lot about — but for some people, it's a fact of life. 

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