Itchy and overwhelmed by an infestation that may have spread across several buildings, a Harlem woman has begun producing a “tenant bedbug newsletter.”
The latest edition of Tiffany Fogle’s bulletin opens with a friendly “Happy Holidays” to neighbors — but the Christmas cheer quickly gives way to an urgent plea.
“Neighbors, We’re begging you to speak up if you have bedbugs or had them and didn’t report it. It’s not just going to help you but others around you. DON’T BE EMBARRASSED !!!” the newsletter reads.
Fogle, 33, and her husband, Curtis Fogle, 54, live in one of 10 buildings on W. 135th St. called the Rose Communities. City Housing Preservation and Development Department records show that five of the buildings have had bedbug violations since 2010. That year, neighbors of the Fogles reported bedbugs on another floor, and the case wasn’t closed until 2014.
“We can’t have company. They crawl across the floor, they’re in the shower,” Tiffany said. “So we had to isolate ourselves. I’m in therapy because of this, I had to go to a part-time schedule because of this, I’m taking psych meds because of this. It’s a lot.”
The hospital technician has developed several coping mechanisms — in addition to pills to treat anxiety and insomnia. Her newsletter is an effort to organize and inform her fellow neighbors. It features sections like “Is it a Bedbug, Cockroach or Carpet Beetle?” a photo series of bedbugs spotted in her apartment and links to various city agencies.
“With me suffering, I decided not to just notify (neighbors) about the bedbug issue but to educate them,” Fogle said.
She’s also posted 18 creepy videos to YouTube. Some show bedbugs she captured — others she filmed crawling on the floor. One video shows three mattresses thrown away in front of her building, which Fogle suspects were infested. Some videos show itchy welts and rashes she says developed from bedbug bites.
“She’s crying every night.” Curtis Fogle said, holding a small plastic jar containing some eight bedbugs.
Infuriated by an alleged lack of response by her landlord, Jonathan Rose Cos., Fogle sued on Halloween.
“When the landlord just responds to a single tenant’s complaint without responding to the bigger picture, they’re never going to resolve the problem,” Fogle’s attorney Marc Miner said.
“This landlord has been especially nonresponsive in taking the situation seriously. This is not a buildingwide problem but a complexwide problem.”
Other residents of the Rose Communities told the Daily News that they, too, were struggling with a bedbug invasion.
Lateasha Easter, 32, said she has had an open bedbugs case with the Housing Preservation and Development Department since April, when she stashed clothes, towels and sheets in plastic bags stacked on shelves in a linen closet.
“If I see one, it’s like OK, I can’t sleep. I go in a frenzy, I need to clean up,” Easter said.
She said building management had canceled two scheduled bedbug treatments. Adding to her frustration, she said, was that she had dealt with bedbugs in 2010 while living in another Rose building.
“They need to treat the whole building,” Easter said. “They’re living in the walls.”
Jonathan Rose Cos. did not respond to a request for comment.