West Frankfort high rise still fighting bed bugs


“I hate to bring this up …” Franklin County Housing Authority Director Monica Stewart sighed and said Monday night at the authority board’s final meeting of the year. Stewart had to report that the authority is still fighting bed bugs in the Anna Gray High Rise building in West Frankfort.

Last week, 17 units in the building were inspected, and six of them came back positive for the pests.

The theory for the continuing problems is that residents are violating instructions not to remove anything from their apartments, and are spreading the insects. Stewart told the board there is a prep list of things that an infected apartment’s inhabitants must do before the housing authority will come in to treat the bugs, but these things are not always done. And that makes the costly treatments less effective.

Each professional bedbug treatment costs the housing authority $1,800, and none of that amount can be passed on to the tenant. Some tenants have had as many as four bedbug treatments.

The Board has now adopted a policy that would allow it to evict tenants who do not comply with the bed bug prep list.

Stewart also outlined a new collections policy for past-due accounts. Currently, the Housing Authority utilizes the services of Merchants Credit, a local collection agency.

Beginning in  2013, the housing authority will participate in a state program that will allow it to garnish state income tax refunds to collect past-due funds. There is an appeals process, which Director Stewart said the Authority will be briefed on this week.

“We have about 350 accounts, and we want to start this process before income tax season,” she said.

In other Board actions:
  • Bids were accepted for purchase on 80 new electric ranges.
  • Bids were accepted for bathroom renovations at Kuca High Rise, replacing standard equipment dating back to 1968 in some cases.
  • Accepted a bid with Housing Authority insurance group for vehicle, property, and general liability insurance. This represents a change of carrier from previously used ARMA insurance. With the new insurer, a $23,000 savings is projected. And, property insurance jumps up from the current $25 million dollars insured to $68 million dollars, which is the appraised worth of the county property owned by FCHA.
  • The Board approved a total of $29,207 in “write offs” as uncollectable debts left by tenants. In 2012, 189 people moved from Housing Authority premises, and 89 left debts.
Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News