Bedbugs force apts. to toss furniture

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Bedbugs have hit a low-income apartment complex so hard that management tossed out furniture of some of their residents, according to residents and a former maintenance worker.

Some of the residents at Greenbriar Apartments say they’re upset that they got less than 24-hour notice that maintenance crews were taking furniture.

They say their furniture, including beds and recliners, was tossed out on Thursday after bedbug-sniffing dogs swept the complex the day before.

Furniture infested with bedbugs at Greenbriar Apartments in Holland. (Courtesy Larry Lawrence via ReportIt - Feb. 23, 2014)

(Courtesy Larry Lawrence via ReportIt – Feb. 23, 2014)

Not everybody gave it up, though.

“They came up with the cops and we told the cops they couldn’t take the furniture,” said Sue Coulter, who lives on the third floor of the three-story, 66-unit apartment building, where rent is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

She refused to give up her bed and recliner.

“They can come in and treat the apartment, but they can’t take the furniture,” she said.

Larry Lawrence, who said he worked maintenance at the building for 8 months, said he helped remove furniture from about a dozen apartments Thursday morning. He helped toss it from balconies from upper-level apartments, then loaded it into Dumpsters, he said.

He said apartment management notified tenants the evening before.

“It was so infested,” Lawrence said. “I don’t mean just a few bugs. There was literally millions of them in one particular apartment.”

Some residents, he said, are upset they got less than 24-hour notice. Some, he said, knew nothing about it.

“These folks, some of them weren’t home when this happened,” he said. “So imagine their surprise when they walk in the door and look and see that they have no furniture left.”

Lawrence said he was fired Friday after telling some residents he planned to complain to HUD.

“Unfortunately, it’s these folks that are on fixed incomes that are the ones that are suffering and are unable to replace furniture,” Lawrence said.

Coulter said she doesn’t have the money to replace her recliner and bed.

“I live in low-income,” she said.

She and other residents said the bedbugs hit the building last summer. She wrapped her boxspring and mattress in plastic, along with her computer. Her plastic-wrapped clothes hang in the closet. “We’re doing everything we can,” she said.

Furniture infested with bedbugs at Greenbriar Apartments in Holland. (Courtesy Larry Lawrence via ReportIt - Feb. 23, 2014)

(Courtesy Larry Lawrence via ReportIt – Feb. 23, 2014)

A second-floor resident said he tossed his couch, bed and recliner in July.

On Thursday, maintenance workers took his infested futon before spraying for bedbugs, he said.

He doesn’t know how he’s going to replace it all.

“The only thing I had left in my apartment was that futon,” he said. “The rest of it all got destroyed because of the bedbugs.”

He has since gotten a new recliner, which is where he plans to sleep.

Tax records show the building is owned by KBJ Greenbriar Limited Dividend Housing Association of Portage.

Andrew Treloar, the president of the Intrepid Professional Group, provided this statement to 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday:

“We have been working with the US Dept. of HUD, MSHDA and the City of Holland since last summer to address this issue of bedbugs at Greenbriar Apartments.  We are following HUD’s guidelines, working with our certified pest management company and communicating with the residents of Greenbriar to resolve the issue of the bedbug infestations.”

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