Bed bugs biting seniors in Renton

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

RENTON, Wash. - Bed bugs have been crawling around Spencer Court since July. It's a low income senior housing project run by SHAG, the Senior Housing Assistance Group.

When Carol Sanders first noticed the bugs she said, "it creeped me out." She and her husband had to throw out their bed and couch because they were infested by the blood sucking parasites. They're sleeping on an air mattress now.

Ken Sanders feels violated.

"There's nothing worse that knowing you've got bed bugs crawling on you," he said.

They've had to professionally clean most of their clothes to kill the bugs, then bag them up until the insects are gone.

After four pest control treatments, bugs are still in the building. Larry Ellingson has a back full of bug bites.

"It's miserable because you're always itching, scratching. You're always feeling like something's crawling on you," said Ellingson.

The tenants said at least 18 units have been infested. Many claim the landlord hasn't been agressive enough about getting rid of the bugs. SHAG said that isn't true.

Executive Director Jay Woodford said, "SHAG does tackle these things aggressively." He added, "We're doing multiple treatments to try to eradicate it, but either the root of it is still occurring or something is causing them to come back again."

What really riles the residents is the bill many got to pay for the treatments, $443. They claim they didn't bring the bugs in, so they shouldn't have to pay. Woldford told us it not SHAG'S policy to pass on remediation costs to residents for things that aren't their fault. Without knowing individual tenant situations, he could only say some residents of Spencer Court may have been billed for not cooperating with the cleanup.

SHAG's Executive Director promised to personally investigate the problem further. One of his tenants said instead of being penalized, they should be compensated for the way they're  living, and for the belongings they have lost.