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Homeless Fear Bedbugs in Shelter

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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 battleĀ 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.


  • Dan

    Bed bugs in a shelter? Who woulda thought?……. What do ya bet, illegal immigrants get put up in nice motels…… Where’s all the people wanting to help the illegals, where are they on the American people here?

  • Steven

    There are bed bugs at Bethal I have proof. What a waste of a program 90% of the people that go through that program end back up at the starting point and yes I know cause I was eaten alive by these up in the program sleeping area they kicked me out of it because I reported it and was wanting to report it to the news why you think they didn’t have a comment there donations are based off of other businesses and investors why do you think channel 8 goes there every year..

    • off2golfing

      Well Steven, find a job and pay for an apartment and you wouldn’t have to put up with the bedbugs there. Do you think that there are no bugs under bridges and dirt floors.

      • Jeanette

        If it was that simple there would be no homeless. Perhaps you should talk to someone at the homeless shelter and they could educate you about the homeless in our city, state, and country. How about volunteering there and you could see it firsthand?

      • off2golfing

        You are correct, homelessness can be complicated. However, Steve here demonstrates that he would rather sleep under a bridge than go to a shelter. If the shelter unfortunately has bedbugs, where did they come from?

  • Sue

    So, if you are too good for the homeless shelters, if you are physically and mentally able…get a job! Our shelters are overflowing. Do you mean to tell me, none of those people are capable of working? They are all mentally or physically incompetent to hold a job? I understand there are some that are. I also understand that there are some that are unwilling to work. My dad had an 8th grade education, raised 6 kids and worked 3 jobs most of his life. None of his jobs were glamorous, but, they were all honest. Get off the drugs, get off the alcohol, get off your duff.

    To those of you who are homeless due to circumstances beyond your control, my deepest sympathy and I mean no offense to you!

    • Linda

      You should have someone from the homeless shelter come talk to your church or a group you belong to. I’m confident you would have a better picture of our homeless situation in Des Moines. Have you ever thought of volunteering there?

      • Sue

        Linda, our church group DOES work with the homeless in the Des Moines area. We sponsor several families every year. they come and stay in our church for a week at a time. Families that belong to the church work with them provided the things they need, getting them to appointments, doing laundry, repairing belongings, getting them bathed, and preparing three meals and snacks each day. I do help. We work with families that have been displaced through no fault of their own. As I said in my earlier post, I mean no offense what so ever to people in a situation like that.
        I do know, though, there are those that prefer to be homeless. Some don’t believe in the government and don’t want to work because they don’t want to pay taxes. they want handouts provided by said government though. Others think they are too good to work at McDonalds, etc, and why should they with people giving them everything they need. There are also those unfortunate people who fall through the cracks, kids who’s parents have kicked them out, but, since they are 18, the youth shelters won’t take them, those with disabilities that prevent them from holding down a job and a home, but, don’t fit on any organization’s radar. I am talking to the ones that are in the situation based on THEIR CHOICES!

  • Steven

    Off golfing your a tool I was in that situation do to a situation I would never ever live there again as long as I live until you’ve been in that situation don’t comment it’s bad there I was full off bites I’m just saying I would rather live in a tent

  • Steven

    I have a job 14 hr work days I provide for a wife and a Lil baby girl and a house and soon to be a daddy to a boy!! All in all its bad worse than tv shows

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