SAN ANTONIO – Along with the exterminators and people in hazmat suits at the Aurora Apartments this week, an official with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development saw for herself Thursday why the Metropolitan Health District said the situation is a public health nuisance.
“In their own words, it’s beyond unacceptable,” Carol Schliesinger, spokeswoman for Metro Health, said after she and city staff showed the HUD representative what seniors and the disabled residents have endured.
HUD provides the residence federal rental assistance to live in the privately owned high-rise north of downtown, which was once a Depression-era hotel.
Schliesinger said the local HUD official, who reports to Washington, D.C., saw “bed bugs on the beds, cockroaches around the door frames, termite damage that was painted and taped over, and where residents saw mice.”
In addition to receiving a report about the situation, she said HUD will be reviewing any complaints or paperwork filed with the agency, along with monitoring the progress of the abatement with Metro Health.
When asked if the building’s owner had gone along on the tour, Schliesinger said no, but “it would have helped.”
She said even so, the owner has been cooperating with the agencies involved, noting that he’s responsible for getting rid of what Metro Health has found to be “a gross infestation of bed bugs and cockroaches.”
KSAT 12 News has tried contacting the owner but has yet to receive a response.
Schliesinger said Metro Health has been on site since Monday after city code enforcement officers, acting on a complaint, discovered the problem.
In response, the city’s Department of Human Services is supplying residents with meals, new clothing and personal hygiene kits.
“That’s what we do, help when needed.” said Rolando Martinez, DHS spokesman.
Schliesinger said the owner is providing bedding. She said even Animal Care Services has offered to treat the residents’ pets that may be carrying bed bugs.
Schliesinger said they are among several city agencies that are “committed to helping these residents as soon as possible.”
It was expected that the exterminators would be done by Monday, but Schliesinger said it could take several more days because of the extent of the infestation, one of the worst ever handled by Metro Health. She said Metro Health still wants to see results in the next few days, but if not, they’ll work with the property owner to make sure the most effective treatment is used.
Schliesinger said it’s possible the bed bugs were hiding in used or donated furniture, but “this didn’t happen overnight.”