Northern Plaza resident Irving Ortiz shows a pile of bed bugs from the laundry room at the housing complex. Ortiz is pleading for help addressing continued problems with bugs and mice in the building. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)
PAWTUCKET Keeping bugs and rodents out of Apartment 510 at the Northern Plaza is about as futile as bailing water from a sinking boat, says resident Irving Ortiz.
The single father of three children says hes been frustrated in his ongoing efforts to get the facilities management to do something about the never-ending parade of mice and bed bugs that invade his familys living space.
Ortizs kids all said theyve been bitten repeatedly by bed bugs and they often chase and kill mice.
Its disgusting, Ortiz told The Valley Breeze. Its not right.
Ortiz recounts recently using his sandal to bat a mouse down his fifth-floor hallway. No one in a modern American housing facility, including this Section 8 housing complex, should have to live in these conditions, he says.
A tour of Ortizs apartment and building revealed many dead bed bugs and extensive evidence of mice. Another resident and a city employee both confirmed the problems.
Ortiz produced pictures from the buildings laundry room showing piles of dead bed bugs. He said the bugs get into laundry and are then left behind when the load is finished.
City officials this week said they have a reactionary role when it comes to inspecting the Northern Plaza at 301 Main St. When someone calls with a complaint, building officials go to inspect their particular apartment to look for evidence, said Lauren Greene, communications and constituent affairs officer for Mayor Donald Grebien.
Greene said that Pawtucket code inspectors responded to complaints of mice and cockroaches at the Northern Plaza as recently as Nov. 1 of last year. But, inspectors found no evidence to back up the complaint.
The city also responded to mice complaints in November of 2015. At that time, inspectors did find rodent evidence and issued a second notice after a return visit found problems persisting, said Greene. The next visit after the second notice found that the problems had been addressed, she said.
Ortiz and another resident, who declined to give his name, said that spraying for bugs was once a common practice in the Northern Plaza, but both said they were told by a building manager that it no longer happens because its too expensive.
The owner of the building is listed as Northern Plaza Associates, care of Rhode Island Housing. Building management could not be reached.
A representative from Rhode Island Housing said after being informed of the issue this week that action would be taken. Dotty Valentini said no one from Northern Plaza has called her office about bugs or mice. She said the building manager is responsible to do so if residents complain. Routine examinations are regularly done and several exterminations are carried out if a problem is discovered, she said.
We check for everything, she said.
Emily Martineau, spokeswoman for Rhode Island Housing, said that the agency has an oversight role at the Northern Plaza as a lender and distributor of vouchers through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but does not own the property.
Martineau said inspections have been done at the facility, including several last year, and no evidence of mice or bed bugs was found. The same was true during routine on-site monitoring in December, she said.
The Northern Plaza, an affordable housing high-rise, has about 100 apartments. Ortiz said his total rent is $1,300, but because hes disabled with a bad back, he pays $362 a month.
Despite making numerous calls to management over the past few months, he said the problems have persisted.
Ortiz, who is looking for another home that works for his family, said he does his best to maintain an immaculate apartment and stay on top of the mice and bug problems. He says he worries about diseases caused by bugs and rodents.
Im a clean freak, he said.
Ortiz showed the The Breeze at least 20 holes created by mice to get in through the walls. He said a woman in another apartment mentioned having mice but told him, they dont really bother me.
How dirty is that? he said.
Any residents who see an issue with rodents or bugs at the Northern Plaza Apartments is invited to call Pawtucket building inspectors at 401-728-0500 ext. 249.
One of the mice Ortiz killed in his hallway.
A bed bug on Ortizs wall.
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Northern Plaza residents report infestation of bed bugs, mice - Valley Breeze