Illinois Knox County Housing Authority now requires tenants to disclose prior bedbug infestations.
December 30, 2015 | by Marty Hobe | The Register-Mail
Galesburg, IL — The Knox County Housing Authority now has a strengthened policy in place to handle pest control, following a bedbug incident in September 2014.
The new lease addendum requires new tenants to disclose if they were aware of an infestation in their previous dwelling when they sign their leases. If bedbugs are found, the new policy state’s residents are required to report it within 48 hours, make the apartment open to allow for inspection and eradication and evacuating the property during and after the treatment.
Executive Director Derek Antoine said the experience handling the problem was something he and the staff wanted to put on paper to better manage the issue if it happens again. It took about seven months from the time the outbreak was reported to its full eradication.
“So we kind of became experts in bedbug management, so to speak, in terms of what works and how to respond and things like this,” Antoine said. “We just kind of took a look at our overall pest control strategy, things that we had been doing and things that we wanted to do, and really just put it to paper.”
The KCHA Board of Commissioners approved the policy changes including the new addendum unanimously Tuesday.
In other business, KCHA is losing residents to Cook County and other metropolitan areas, which could pose a problem for the Knox County agency. The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides assistance to very low-income families, helping them find residency. Ten vouchers from Knox County were absorbed into the Cook County system this month, Antoine said, and the KCHA needs to replace those vouchers or risk losing funding.
“It’s not anything against the Housing Authority of Cook County, they do good work too,” Antoine said. “It’s just the way the game is played, so to speak.”
KCHA staff will work to replace those vouchers, however, the process is slow, taking two to three months. If they are unable to sign 10 more vouchers, the new budget will only reflect the amount as it stands and the agency will have to pay for any new vouchers out of its reserve account. Antoine said there is enough money on hand, but it was not an ideal solution.