Man in need of furniture after ordeal with bugs
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/08/2022 (272 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Brandon resident still reeling from having to flee his Manitoba Housing apartment in Winnipeg says he appreciates the help he has received, but needs other things to get his life back to relative normalcy.
Victor Bouvette, 68, had his life turn into a bug-infested nightmare when he tried to move from Brandon to Winnipeg to be closer to family. What was supposed to be a new start became what he called a fight against cockroaches, bed bugs and building management.
Since he left the Carriage Road apartment on July 19 with few possessions, he said the remainder had to be left behind and as of Aug. 19, they have been thrown out.
That includes most of his furniture, personal possessions and paperwork, like his tax receipts.
Since then, he said he has received many offers of help and a few donations of small household items like dishes and clothes. While he is pleased with the kindness, he said what he really needs is help getting some furniture for his apartment.
A pensioner and of fragile health, Bouvette said he cannot afford to buy new or even used from the charity outlets.
Not one to ask for charity, he said he needs help because with a fixed income and has already incurred debt to buy some food, clothes and pay rent on both his current apartment and final two weeks rent on his previous one.
“What money I had saved up, about $2,000, went to pay for the move and I couldn’t afford to go back to Winnipeg, or hitchhike,” he said. “It hurts knowing all they did was go in and throw my stuff in bags and throw it out. They told me they were coming in to spray, so they had to get rid of it.”
While he added he understood much of his furniture was likely contaminated from the roaches, he said he still would’ve like to have had a chance to go through it to get some personal possessions and keepsakes to bring home.
He had bought some furniture to accommodate his newer, but smaller, apartment in Winnipeg as well, giving or selling much of his old furniture away.
He also said he understands his family couldn’t help him because of fear of inadvertently picking up roaches or bedbugs.
Bouvette had been living in his Lawson Lodge unit for 15 years and applied to transfer to a unit, which he was told there was one available in a building at 125 Carriage Rd., in the St. James area of Winnipeg. At the time, he said one of his sisters looked at it on his behalf and said it looked clean.
He moved in on July 2, and within a couple days noticed cockroaches. He was initially given some sticky paper traps, but those were quickly used up and he had to go get more from an exterminator. It got to the point where they were in his bed, his food and were constantly scurrying around his floor and walls.
He tried to take refuge in his bathtub, with several traps around the rim.
“At that point I had barely slept and I just passed out in there,” he said. “Even then, I woke up to them in the traps around my head and crawling around the floor.”
He was told a maintenance crew that works for the province was coming in to spray by Aug. 19. He found out the building has had a roach problem for 18 years. He also found bed bugs were in his unit.
He left his apartment behind, and without money for a cab or bus fare, he hitchhiked back to Brandon. Once he returned to Brandon and told the Manitoba Housing people what happened to him, they quickly got him back into his old apartment.
Bouvette said he has had to deal with cockroach infestations in the past, but often dealt with private exterminators.
Manitoba Housing has its own pest control team that services its housing units, but Bouvette said there is a marked difference in effectiveness.
“I’m sure they are not spraying properly,” he said. “When they go into a unit to spray, it’s really short, maybe a couple minutes.”
Since Bouvette’s ordeal was first published, Manitoba Housing has followed up with a statement regarding pest control and working with Bouvette.
“Manitoba Housing’s Integrated Pest Management Group is dedicated to addressing all pest activity on Manitoba Housing properties,” a spokesperson with the provincial government said. “We recognize that dealing with pests can be stressful, and as a result, Manitoba Housing takes pest control seriously. Eradication of cockroaches takes time and requires co-operation from tenants to ensure they are prepared for treatments, which includes performing in-between treatment cleaning and removing potential food and water sources.”
To prepare a unit for a future tenant and treatments, Manitoba Housing staff asked Bouvette to remove the remainder of his belongings after notice was provided regarding their move and tried to come up with a suitable date for him to return, they said.
Bouvette insists he tried, but that required him to travel, which he was unable to do.
He said all he has is his bed, TV — which he said he wrapped in plastic to stop bugs from getting in — a table, a donated chair and some of his clothes.
“I’ve asked at some places that had some furniture that looked good, but they said they couldn’t make deals,” said Bouvette. “I’m hoping someone out there has some furniture, like a couch, kitchen table, chairs, stuff like that, so I don’t have to sleep in my living room.”
He added his nervousness has subsided, but still finds himself waking up periodically, or thinking he sees movement in his peripheral vision.
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