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Victims of bed bug infestation get legal help

WNEM TV5 has a follow-up to the ongoing bed bug problem at a local senior housing complex.

Tenants at Maplewood Manor in Saginaw say they've asked for help getting rid of the pests for some time but no one is listening.

And now, after months of complaints, some legal help is on the way.

Less than 24 hours after TV5's report aired, representatives from Legal Services of Eastern Michigan went to Maplewood Manor to speak with the residents, who are their new clients.

"You can't sleep with bed bugs, I found that out," said Tom Kennedy, president of the Maplewood Manor Residents Association.

Kennedy and other residents at Maplewood say they've been living with bed bugs for far too long. "I've had mine for over two years," said Kennedy.

As TV5 reported in our Tough Questions investigation on Tuesday, they've complained to the Saginaw County Housing Commission who owns the building, but they say nothing has been done to get rid of the bugs. Now they've called in reinforcements.

"We had some of the tenants come to us and explain the situation," said attorney Dan Straka, with Legal Services of Eastern Michigan. "Once we figured out it was the entire building, we decided to take on the tenants as a client."

Legal Services of Eastern Michigan announced Wednesday it will represent the residents.

Straka met with them just hours after TV5's story aired. "Our priority is to get the bed bugs eliminated," said Straka.

Most residents at Maplewood are senior citizens on fixed incomes. Some have had to throw out mattresses and other furniture because they were infested with bed bugs, and they want to be reimbursed for the expense.

"I threw out two sets of twin mattresses. A lot of people spent money on sprays," explained Kennedy.

"There's no doubt. Some people came here with nothing, now they've got even less," said Sherry Tucker, who lives in another building run by the Saginaw Housing Commission. She says they also had a bed bug problem and had to call in legal services to get action. She says they were a big help. "It was a nightmare ... it's kind of easing up now," Tucker said.

Residents at Maplewood are hoping for the same improvement sometime soon.

"What our residents want is this situation taken care of so we have no more bed bugs," said Kennedy.

Even though legal services is now involved, TV5 is told there's not going to be a lawsuit just yet. 

Lawyers want to try to negotiate with the Saginaw Housing Commission to get the matter taken care of before heading to court.

TV5 reporter Kristin Moore spoke to the executive director of the housing commission on Wednesday. She did not want to comment on this new development but told TV5 that they have been trying to resolve the problem.

Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

Victims of bed bug infestation get legal help

Friday, November 8 2013, 09:31 AM EST

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