Residents at Fall River apartment complex face cockroach infestation
FALL RIVER — Some tenants at the Mitchell Heights Apartments, one of the Fall River Housing Authority’s low-income housing facilities on South Main Street, said they’ve had enough with what they claim is at least a yearlong cockroach infestation, and they want action to rid their domiciles of the icky pests.
The tenants we talked to asked not to be identified by name, saying they feared retaliation for speaking out, but they had their cockroach stories to tell.
One man, who said he’s lived in Mitchell Heights for about five years, said he’s heard complaints about the pests from neighbors, but didn’t experience it for himself until 1½ years ago.
“Two days ago, I went to shave, my toothbrush and toothpaste are on the counter. I’m shaving, and my light goes dim, and I look up and two of them are running around the light fixture. They are coming through the holes in the walls. Wherever there are the electrical sockets and lights,” he said.
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And he’s killed a lot of cockroaches he’s found under his kitchen sink and on his kitchen counters.
And then he overheard an exterminator on his cell phone saying that there were bedbugs on the third floor of the 259-unit apartment building.
“I’m so stressed out by this. I’ve lost 100 pounds in a few years,” he said. “If you look at the Housing Authority’s manual, they promise a safe, healthy, and sanitary place to live. That’s not what this is.”
“I never had to live like this before,” the resident said.
Another resident said he brought Chinese take-out home one night and prepared a plate for dinner. He got called away for a few minutes, returned and found a cockroach in the food.
“Seventeen dollars’ worth of food in the trash, and that’s just one of the stories,” he said.
Cockroaches on pillows, in mailboxes, in the piano
Mitchell resident Linda P. invited The Herald News into her tidy apartment on Tuesday. On her kitchen table, she had her food, dishes and other items from her cupboards covered in a sheet to protect them when the exterminators spray her apartment every few weeks.
She pointed out about a half-dozen cockroach traps that had been laid down just two days before, according to Linda P., located in different areas of her one-bedroom apartment, all containing the remains of the insects.
Last week when she was going to bed, Linda P. found a cockroach on her pillow. She killed it and documented the remains.
“It was huge,” she said.
The residents said that the bugs are in the communal area where tenants gather. Linda P. said they come out of the mailboxes, and she must shake her mail before bringing it into her apartment.
Another tenant who plays the piano in the communal area for fellow residents said, “They come out of the piano, too.”
Walking in the hallway, a few dead roaches can be seen on the floor.
“They like white. See that white shirt? There was a big, huge one, dead on the back of it,” she said.
Roach infestation has caught the attention of the administration
A call to the Fall River Housing Authority was not immediately returned.
But city Building Inspector Glenn Hathaway said the issue just recently got on the radar of the city’s Minimum Housing department.
Hathaway said he and Minimum Housing director Faust Fiore met on Tuesday with Housing Authority management.
“I wanted to put them on notice that they have to do more,” said Hathaway.
He said they plan on treating more areas at Mitchell where the bugs populate, like in between floors and crevices where they hide.
“I guess they weren’t treating those areas, but they are going to be now,” said Hathaway.
In the meeting with the Housing Authority, Hathaway said, he learned that some tenants are not cooperating with preparing their apartments for the extermination, which affects efforts to get rid of the problem and causes infestation in neighboring units.
“I wouldn’t want to live like that, and I wouldn’t expect the tenants to live like that either,” said Hathaway.
On Wednesday, the management put up a notice that the residents were invited to a meeting with representatives from the Housing Authority and the private extermination company on Sept. 6 at 8:30 a.m. in the Mitchell community room.
“Our goal is to keep residents informed of our ongoing efforts in the building,” read the notice.