Bedbugs have managed to creep back into Gastonia’s Salvation Army homeless shelter. A problem that has haunted the shelter in summers past, there appears to be no permanent way to get rid of the insidious pests.
A resident of the shelter describes the situation as “really difficult to sleep in.” The resident awoke in the middle of the night because he felt something in his bed. When he shined a light onto his mattress, it was completely alive and crawling with bedbugs.
The Gaston County Health Department does not inspect homeless shelters.
“We offer free information on how to get rid of pests like bedbugs, but we can’t provide free care,” said Shannon Clubb, the public relations officer for the Health Department.
Yet, getting rid of bedbugs is incredibly difficult. They are small, reproduce quickly, and seem to spring up annually along with the summer’s heat. Most active at night, they feed off of human blood and often cause exposed skin to develop welts or small, itchy red bumps.
The problem is most ubiquitous among homeless shelters. Many newcomers unknowingly carry the little hitchhiking pests in their clothing or blankets.
The most effective way of ridding them is through pest control companies, a luxury the Gastonia Salvation Army homeless shelter cannot afford.
Annie Thompson, head of the Lighthouse Homeless Shelter and Thrift Store in Clover, S.C., is grateful to have not encountered the problem, and is praying for those who have to deal with the pests.
“Bedbugs are as bad as roaches or worse,” she said. “I hope everybody can find a solution and try and keep them out.”
Thompson advises Gastonia’s shelter to scald their beds and disinfect the entire shelter.
“Whatever they’ve got in there, they’re going to have to take everything out. I wish them luck and God bless them,” Thompson says.