Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Bed bugs infest Westside shelter in Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Staff and people staying at the Westside homeless shelter have a problem on their hands – bed bugs.

Some people using the shelter reached out to us and on Wednesday, the shelter director confirmed the bugs are a problem.

“I have seen them crawling on the sheets, I keep my area clean, I have white sheets now because I’m able to visualize them better,” said MJ.

MJ is talking about bugs that were captured on video at the Westside Shelter.

Steve Decker is CEO of “Heading Home,” and overseer of operations. He confirmed the shelter has a bed bug infestation, but says their hands are tied.

“The best we can do is request, and the city has been very good at honoring request for pest control, but pest control comes out, and unless we completely empty the shelter they can’t treat the entire building all at once,” said decker

He also says bed bugs are sadly very common in these types of shelter.

“If there is a congregate shelter they’re going to face these issues, period,” said Decker.

The shelter says they have dryers for guests to use to help kill the bed bugs. But, the shelter says they can’t force guests to use them.

MJ says this is her second time here and hopes it’s her last.

“When I got here, I hit the ground running, I looked into you know, trying to get a job and I got that job. I passed my background check, my urine screening, my license is in good standing. So there was nothing there was nothing holding me back as far as employment,” said MJ.

MJ just got a new job, and she worries about taking the bugs with her to work – lost work time means lost money for her.

“I’m very paranoid, I have a hard time sleeping. I’m just always thinking, you know have you ever scratch you know, you’re always thinking, oh my gosh, what is that?”

MJ says she hopes the shelter will enforce hygiene more going forward, but mostly she just wants a clean place to sleep.

“I can’t break the cycle because I can’t, you know, you can’t get started, you can’t get paid,” she said.

The shelter says because this is an ongoing issue there’s no real timeline as to when the bugs will be mitigated. But they say they contacted the city pest control as needed.

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