The incredibly bug-informed Renee Corea at nyvsbedbugs.org points out to us that complaints to 311 about bed bugs (which we reported on recently here) don't paint a full enough picture of our city's problem.
Among other omissions, while co-ops and condos make up about a third of the city's housing stock, owners aren't likely to complain to 311, since they (unlike renters) have the power to address a building-wide infestation. They also tend to be more able to afford corrective action.
Also, people in illegal sublets--or who are illegally in this country and likely to live in badly managed buildings that don't take control of the bugs--are probably suffering in silence. Moreover, the numbers reported by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development don't include complaints about infestations at work and other non-residential settings.
So what's the real story under the covers? Corea, calling on the Health Department to conduct a survey, offers this chilling analogy:
"A survey in Cincinnati, finding that roughly 1 in 6 people have had bed bugs in 2007, does not bode well for us, as the survey compared to the official stats in Cincinnati for that same period would yield an under-reporting rate of more than 98%," she says.
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