DES MOINES, Iowa — While the City of Des Moines clears homeless camps, some homeless people say they are afraid to go to shelters because of bedbugs.
“Yeah, I don’t want…bedbugs will eat you alive,” says Douglas Weise, who is homeless.
Wiese doesn’t want to leave his campsite. And, he says, he definitely doesn’t want to go to a shelter; in part, he says, because of the bedbugs.
At Central Iowa Shelter and Services, they admit there is a bedbug problem. Any time you have 300-or-so transient people staying in the same shelter, they say, there’s bound to be a problem. But they spend about $18,000 per year fighting a daily battle to mitigate that problem. For example, all clothing brought into the building is put into a device that super heats items to 135-degrees to destroy bedbugs and their eggs.
“Client belongings that all come in they get put in these nap sacks,” explains director Tony Timm, “It will go in this hot box and then it gets heated up.”
The beds also have metal frames and treated sheets to combat the problem.
We were told that there is a bedbug problem at Bethel Mission too, but we were not able to confirm that. They have not responded to multiple requests for comment.