Chicago vs. Bed Bugs

Advocating policy to control the spread of bed bugs in the City of Chicago

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Lakeview’s Got Bed Bugs

Posted by Jessica on January 1, 2009

And, apparently, Boystown and Ravenswood do, too.  North Siders, this one’s for you.

Nobugs, a member of our advisory committee, suggested that I take a look at an article published in the Chicago Journal on December 30th.  I did, and what I read in the article inspired me to conduct a little research, the results of which might be of particular interest to those of you living in and around the Lakeview neighborhood.

In News you may have missed in ’08, editor Jessica Pupovac lists some 2008 North Side news stories that did not make the online newspaper’s list of the top five stories of the year.  One of these stories details an ongoing battle between the owner of the Diplomat hotel, a 98-room single-room occupancy (SRO) at 3208 N. Sheffield, and the City of Chicago.  According to Pupovac’s article, residents at the Diplomat are living under conditions that are in violation of more than eighty municipal codes, including the codes concerning insects, rodents and pests:

In July, tenants at the Diplomat Hotel… told us about the conditions inside the building. They complained of leaky plumbing, cockroaches, rats, electrical circuits that blow out “every five minutes,” floors that feel like they are on the verge of collapse and bedbugs that keep them up at night and make them itch all day.

Wow.  Talk about a building that’s not reasonably fit and habitable!

While I hated to think about what the residents of the Diplomat have to live with day in and day out, I couldn’t help but think about how their miseries could help us spread good information about bed bugs.  What this article is telling us, you see, is that bed bugs are alive and well in Lakeview.

Now, I know some of you are wondering what the big deal is, right?  I mean, the truth is that most people who don’t know much about bed bugs associate them with places just like the Diplomat: shelters or group living facilities or affordable housing communities that serve people who don’t make a lot of money and have to move around a lot in order to keep roofs over their heads.  Right?

This is the stigma that’s associated with bed bugs.  It haunts people who are dealing with bed bug infestations in their homes.  It makes them leery about talking about bed bugs; it keeps them from sharing their woes with even their closest friends.  And sometimes, it prevents them from getting the help they desperately need.

I am about to discredit the bed bug stigma, right here and right now.  You paying attention, North Siders?

Today, I went to The Bed Bug Registry, a free online public database of reported bed bug infestations.  I know that most people don’t know that The Bed Bug Registry exists, and I know that many of the people who do know that it exists are afraid to register their addresses (the stigma again).  So, I’ve never really viewed the Registry as a reliable tool for tracking the spread of bed bug infestations in our city.  I think what I found on the Registry, however, is a reliable tool for discrediting the stigma that follows bed bug infestations, in our city and everywhere else.  Here are some of the addresses registered, as of today, in and around the Lakeview neighborhood:

536 W. Addison St.

540 W. Roscoe St.

452 W. Aldine Ave.

3155 N. Hudson Ave.

833 W. Buena Ave.

So you see, contrary to what you’ve probably always heard or believed about bed bugs, they do not, in fact, limit themselves to certain socioeconomic segments of the population.  Nope.  They’re just as likely to show up in apartments and condos in Boystown, Lakeview, and Ravenswood (no, Ravenswood, you have not been spared) as they are anywhere else.

And if you’re breathing a sigh of relief right now because the addresses listed above are a mile or two away from your own, take heed: bed bugs do travel.  They travel in purses and bookbags, they travel in coats and shoes, they travel on discarded furniture, and they travel on buses and trains.  They travel with people to work and to school and to movie theaters and to bars and to restaurants.  They travel through the walls in buildings like the Diplomat, which shares its address with two businesses, either of which you might have visited this week.

There’s a reason the addresses listed above are all located within several blocks of each other.  There’s a reason I keep finding discarded mattresses and box springs in the same neighborhoods, over and over again, for months and months on end.  Bed bugs do travel.

The moral of the story?  Bed bugs could happen to youYou, my fellow Chicagoans, could be kept up all night and kept itching all day by parasites that live with you in your homes and feed on you– your blood– whenever they are hungry.

If there are bed bugs in your home or your building, I encourage you to register your address on The Bed Bug Registry.  You can do so anonymously, and you do not have to list a specific apartment or unit number if you don’t want to.

And if you’d like to help us advocate policy to control the spread of bed bug infestations in the City of Chicago by taking on one of the tasks listed on our Activism page– or if you have an idea we haven’t thought of yet– please contact us at the email address listed on our Join page.

If you’d like to share your story or engage with other Chicagoans who are dealing with bed bug infestations, I encourage you to do so by submitting a comment on our Discuss page.

I hope that the City of Chicago wins its battle with the owner of the Diplomat hotel, and that the residents of the Diplomat sleep peacefully again.  Soon.


4 Responses to “Lakeview’s Got Bed Bugs”

  1. Great post, Jessica. I look forward to more photographs.

  2. Jessica said

    Renee, your wish, in this case, is my command. New photo on the front page and another on the Photographing Chicago’s Story page. Both taken yesterday.


  3. Ramona said

    Also be aware that a major infestation of BB can also be in other furniture such as nightstands, tv stands etc especailly if made from the cheap pressed wood that is sold by many major retailers, as well as alarm clocks, phones and other electronic equipment that might also be in your bedroom or other places in your home where you have found bedbugs. These are items you should also avoid out of dumsters.

  4. Jessica said

    Yes, Ramona, you are right again!

    You’re certainly doing your homework, aren’t you? Good for you. It’s the best way you can help yourself right now, and by sharing good information, you’re helping lots of other people, too.

    *EVERYONE: I encourage you to avoid taking items out of dumpsters, period– this is hands-down one of the easiest ways to catch and spread bed bug infestations.*

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