Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Norwood Tenants Collaborate with DC Department of Health and Organize “Stop Bedbugs” Summit in Washington, DC

Meeting to Establish Stop Bedbugs DC, A Unified Campaign Against Bedbugs

The Norwood Tenant Association is collaborating with the District of Columbia Department of Health to organize a summit to address the problem of bedbugs in Washington, DC. The tenants at the Norwood got involved in advocating for a community approach to bedbug infestations after a multi-year battle against infestation at their own building. After the Norwood tenant organizers presented their work regarding education and pest control strategies at a public meeting in July, 2008, the group was approached by the DC Department of Health to help design a campaign to address bedbugs throughout the District.

The goal of the summit is to learn about bedbug biology, bedbug control, and to establish a DC wide task force that will address enforcement, education, data collection, and legislative approaches. Presenters will include Dr. Dini M. Miller, Associate Professor, Dodson Urban Pest Management Laboratory at Virginia Tech, Ray Lopez, the 2008 recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leader Award for his innovative approaches on controlling bedbugs without using pesticides, as well as representatives from the pest management industry who will share the latest industry approaches. The summit will take place on Friday, March 27, 2009, at 441 4th Street NW, Room 1107 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

In the last decade, bedbugs have been making a comeback in major American cities. There are lessons to be learned from the cities that have taken on the problem as a matter of public policy, including New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, Boston, San Francisco and Toronto. It is now clear that a multilevel task force must be implemented to address the problem in our nation's capital. Combating an infestation of the tiny insects, which prey on human hosts while they sleep, can quickly add up to thousands of dollars and sleepless nights for those who suffer with them. Members of the Norwood Tenant Association have documented some of these struggles in a recent feature bedbug cover story in the January 30, 2009 issue of the Washington City Paper.

Bedbugs don't discriminate; they affect residents in high end luxury apartments, as well as those in more modest dwellings. In dealing with bedbugs, residents in DC often find they are fighting an uphill battle in trying to find the correct response to the problem. Even well meaning landlords may not be fully educated in proper pest control practices, and as a result they risk contributing to the spread of the bugs in neighboring apartments and homes. Working together, Stop Bedbugs DC will promote a unified approach to address the resurgence of bedbugs in Washington, DC.

The summit will establish various stakeholder groups that are affected by bedbugs, and empower them to take action to combat the problem. This event will also include discussion of legislative and enforcement approaches, as well as citizen involvement through tenant groups, senior and public housing, and educational outreach through government and local businesses on the front lines of the community.

The first district-wide summit has been organized with the help of the Department of Health, with special thanks to Peggy Keller and Gerard Brown with the DC Department of Health, David Fabian, Silvia Inéz Salazar, Eunyoung Lim, and Randy Green of the Norwood Tenants Association, and consultations from Renee Corea of New York vs. Bedbugs, and Jessica Kevan of Chicago vs. Bedbugs.

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