Embudo Towers residents complain of mattress bugs and poor safety, Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Bed bugs, malfunctioning washers and dryers, and safety concerns were among the complaints made Wednesday by a group of Embudo Towers residents outside the Albuquerque Housing Commissioner’s office.

The two four-story towers on the constitution between Pennsylvania and Wyoming contain 101 public housing for the elderly and the disabled. Each floor in each wing shares a common laundry room. About 20 residents, some with sticks and oxygen bottles, attended the housing authority meeting.

“Not only are there bed bugs, people can’t wash their clothes and sheets because the washers and dryers aren’t working, and even if they do, they won’t get hot enough to kill the bed bugs,” said resident Jerry Lujan who organized the group.

Embudo Towers resident and organizer Jerry Lujan speaks to the Albuquerque Housing Authority committee Wednesday about a variety of issues at the complex. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

Lujan said residents have been complaining about the bed bugs for at least three months. In addition, some washing machines broken into by intruders swinging crowbars have not been repaired for five months; Locks on doors in the complex have been out of order for more than three years; and the parking lot is poorly lit, which creates a dangerous situation for local residents heading out after dark.

Local residents, Lujan said, are considering a class action lawsuit or tenants’ strike.

Linda Bridge, executive director of the AHA, said the agency is aware of the issues at Embudo Towers and has already started addressing them with a systematic, floor-by-floor spraying of each unit. The process is said to take about six weeks.

The bed bugs were likely brought in by residents who brought used or discarded mattresses or furniture. When the tiny, wingless insects find their way into clothing, residents toss them through the on-site washers and dryers, which don’t get hot enough to kill them. Many get loosened in the machines and tangled in the next user’s laundry, she said.

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To stop the spread of the infestation, some laundry rooms have been purposely closed and residents have been instructed to wash their clothes in large commercial machines in laundromats.

AHA deputy director Andrew Estocin said the washing machines are rented and serviced by a contractor. “We have problems with them. They are fully aware of the problems and their tasks, but they have not yet done so. “

Resident Earl Walters told commissioners that people who did not live in the complex would enter through unsecured doors and were seen using and selling drugs; Frank Gonzales told them his car was wrecked in the poorly lit parking lot; and Camille Duncan noted that the building is generally poorly maintained and the hallway carpeting “looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in 20 years”.

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