Residents in Mira Mesa apartment complain of insect infestation

Residents: SD Housing Commission 'unresponsive'

SAN DIEGO - Rosa Monahan has bed bugs by the dozen -- in the carpets, in the drawers and in the walls.

"I feel miserable, living in this place," said Monahan.

She's been living in Maya Apartments in Mira Mesa for 12 years. She said ever since the San Diego Housing Commission took over, so have the insects.

"It's something in my life I never thought I would have because I'm a super organized and clean person," said Monahan. "This is a nightmare."

It's a nightmare many of the residents at the complex said they've been dealing with for years. Team 10 heard the stories of two other residents, who chose to remain anonymous because both are undocumented and fear deportation.

The first resident has been dealing with a cockroach infestation for four years, and he claims there has been no response from the San Diego Housing Commission.

The other resident sleeps on the kitchen table with his newborn. He said it's the only place in the apartment that is free of bugs.

"When you can't go to sleep because you feel that you're going to be attacked, when you fear for the health of your children, it's inhumane," said Alor Calderon of the Employee Rights Center.

Calderon is familiar with both of these cases. He said they feel trapped and ignored by Housing Commission officials, especially by the manager placed onsite. Residents claim when they report an insect problem to her, she will agree to move them out. However, she will then knowingly move another family straight into the infestation without dealing with the problem, according to residents.

"If you have an infestation, it's not enough to just move you to another apartment," said Calderon. "It's not right."

For the residents, whatever the Housing Commission is doing doesn't seem to be working. Team 10 investigator Natasha Zouves went into Monahan's apartment. Even though it's been sprayed six times, there were still bed bugs, alive and crawling.

Monahan also had to throw out all of her furniture -- a cost she said she can't bear, especially while caring for her mother who has Alzheimer's.

The San Diego Housing Commission insists it hasn't heard of most of these cases. Maya Apartments is one of 160 properties it oversees.

Team 10 spoke to San Diego Housing Commission Senior Vice President of Real Estate Deborah Ruane, and she said she personally visited the complex the day before the Team 10 interview. When asked about the cases Team 10 heard about, Ruane said, "I don't believe it's happening."

However, in Monahan's case, she added it's typical for an apartment to be sprayed for bed bugs six times and still have insects.

"We want to make sure that the health and safety of the residents who live at the properties owned by the San Diego Housing Commission are taken into consideration," said Ruane. "It's not acceptable."

The Housing Commission pledged to tent the entire complex by the end of the year and to place another staff member onsite to oversee the manager.

Monahan said she hasn't seen the other staff member yet, and that she is eagerly awaiting the tenting.

"People say to me, 'Why don't you move? Why don't you move?'" said Monahan. "I'm not going anywhere. The others don't dare to speak up, I speak up. I have the freedom to speak up and the freedom to help my community."

Additional Resources:

Employee Rights Center

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