Olentangy Valley News

Health district reaches out to bedbug victims

District offers financial help for owners of infested homes

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The Delaware General Health District hopes its new program will help take some of the bite out of paying for bedbug treatments.

The district announced last week it would launch the Bed Bug Treatment Forgiveness Loan program. Through the program, the agency will pay for half -- up to $500 -- of certain district residents' bedbug treatments.

Adam Howard, the health district's residential services manager, said one resident requested an application for the program in its first week. He said it's hard to discern how many county residents are living with bedbugs because there are no reporting requirements.

Bedbugs are brown, oval-shaped insects that feed on blood. The bugs often live in mattresses and other pieces of furniture.

"We believe it is an underreported problem," Howard said. "There is a stigma associated with it."

Although bedbugs have not been shown to spread disease, Howard said the district saw treatment of the pests as another opportunity to serve its residents. The district already collects and analyzes what information it can about bedbug infestations and offers workshops on how to identify and treat bedbugs multiple times per year.

The program will help to fund treatments at single-family homes in which the owner has lived for more than one year.

Howard said the program excludes rental properties.

"That's more of a cooperation that needs to occur with the owner and renter," he said.

The homeowner will need to provide written proof of the infestation from an exterminator and two or more treatment quotes from licensed pest-management firms.

The gross income of the person or family living in the home also must not exceed 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

For more information on the program or to apply, district residents -- those who live in Delaware County outside Columbus, Dublin or Westerville -- may call 740-368-1700 or email Howard at ahoward@delawarehealth.org.

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