By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – A resident of downtown’s Luther Center says the building is infested with bed bugs and that he’s been bitten several times.
Chuck LaMont, who’s lived in the facility for five years, said besides the 100 bed begs he has seen his apartment within the last two weeks, there’s been dozens more in the dining hall and TV area.
“They are everywhere,” LaMont said. “They are in the carpets, and I’ve seen them crawling around on the furniture. People are being served meals in there, not knowing that there is a bed-bug outbreak.”
LaMont said his apartment is not the only one that’s been affected and that there are bugs in “over half” of the 200-unit complex.
Property Manager Amanda Hathaway confirmed the presence of bed bugs but said it’s a far from an outbreak. She said an on-site exterminator found them in only seven units and that they are likely only in 5 percent of the facility.
“It’s not a big issue,” Hathaway said. “I mean they are there, but not everywhere.”
Hathaway said the exterminator sprays monthly and will treat an apartment if bugs are discovered.
“We take this very seriously,” she said. “We don’t want (bed bugs) here and we are taking every precaution.”
Hathaway added that old carpeting and other cloth material in the building that may be contaminated is currently being removed as part of a remodeling project.
LaMont said he’s received at least 20 bites on his arms and legs, the same marks he claims he has seen on other Luther Center residents. Hathaway said she cannot confirm that report.
“We aren’t doctors,” she said. “There is no way for any of us to tell if those are bites or something else on the skin.”
LaMont, however, said he’s been given a definite diagnosis.
“I went to the doctor for my itching and I was told it was bed bugs,” he said. “It’s been getting better because I was given medicine.”
But LaMont said he is still seeing bugs, including the one he captured and showed the exterminator this week. Hathaway said the insect was inspected and found not to be a bed bug.
“I know what I saw in my apartment and I know what my doctor said,” LaMont said.
Hathaway said she is working with the Winnebago County Health Department to organize an informational session about how to eliminate and prevent bed bugs.
At 111 W. State St., the 32-year-old Luther Center is owned by House of David Preservation, a Missouri-based affordable housing nonprofit, which bought it from Lutheran Social Services in 2017. The building offers standard one- and two-bedroom apartments and assisted-living units to residents 55 and older. It is managed by Capital Realty Group, of Spring Valley, New York.