Residents in two Jefferson City affordable housing complexes, along with the city's housing authority, are battling a major problem; bed bugs.
Sandy Meier, who has lived in Dulle Tower for over four years, said she tries to stay in her own apartment all the time to avoid bringing in bed bugs.
"If you sit down here in the lobby you've gotta be careful who you sit next to...it's just that much out of hand. There's people picking them off their skin," Meier said.
"I look under my bed, under the cushions, under my chairs, couches...I look at the walls, I look in my bed mattress, box springs, dresser..."
Meier's neighbor, Debra Hardman, said she also takes precautions to avoid getting the bugs.
"I don't pick up things from other people, I don't take in things to my apartment from other people, I try to watch where I sit...if I sit down at all...I'm even to the point where I don't even want to get on the walls in the elevators," Hardman said.
Hardman said she's lived in either Dulle or Hamilton tower since 2001 and doesn't remember an outbreak of bed bugs as bad as the current one. Hamilton Tower is also experiencing a bed bug problem.
Jefferson City Housing Authority Executive Director Allen Pollock said the two towers have had problems with bed bugs for the past couple years, with big outbreaks coming in waves.
The Housing Authority owns the two low-income apartment buildings.Right now, Pollock says they're treating one or two problem areas each week.
"When we treat one unit it means we're also treating four others; the units on either side of the infected unit and then above and below," he said.
The main unit gets a heat treatment. In order to be effective, the unit has to be clean so that the heat gets to the bugs and eggs without being absorbed by other objects in the area.
The other units get treated with a chemical spray.
"I've had to have my apartment sprayed twice because my neighbor below me has had them and my neighbor above me has had them," a Dulle Tower resident, who wished to be identified only as Dana, said.
Pollock said the money to treat the bed bugs comes from the Authority's general operating fund. However, if the outbreaks continue in such quantity, the funds may dry up.
"We've been able to absorb this cost, but I don't know how much longer we can do that. We do not get any additional funding for this type of thing," Pollock said.
He also said that bed bugs can be brought into the units on people, clothing and pets, but infestations usually start when tenants bring in furniture they took from the street or trash.