SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)--a Springfield woman reached out to Western Mass News, saying her apartment is infested with vermin.
She is struggling to find a new place to live. Carmen Sierra said all she wants to do is move out of her current apartment and leave the fleas and bed bugs behind, but she said she is struggling to secure a new apartment.
“I just need to stop the situation,” tenant Carmen Sierra said.
Carmen Sierra told Western Mass News she has lived in this three-bedroom apartment on Commonwealth Ave. for more than a decade. She said it’s subsidized in part by the Springfield Housing Authority.
But for more than a year, she said a bed bug and flea infestation have made it far from a home sweet home.
“Lack of sleep because I have to get up every two hours,” Sierra said.
She said the landlord’s previous extermination efforts have failed and now she regularly sprays her mattress with bleach during the night.
“To be able to just put my head down for a little bit until they start biting me again,” Sierra said.
She said the Springfield Housing Authority has come in to issue violations after experiencing the problems up close.
“The housing inspector got bit by fleas while he was doing the inspection?” we asked.
“Yes ma’am,” she said.
Sierra has a new mattress that she hasn’t taken out of the plastic yet because she is trying to find a new place to live. Sierra, who is disabled, needs two bedrooms to have space for her physical therapy. And that is where she says she’s at odds with the housing authority.
“They are forcing me to get a one-bedroom apartment,” Sierra said.
Western Mass News reached out to the Housing Authority. Officials declined to answer our questions regarding Sierra’s specific case citing privacy concerns.
But in general, they said quote:
“If a participant in our section 8 program qualifies for a one-bedroom apartment then a one-bedroom payment standard is used in determining the amount of subsidy the participant is entitled to....”
But Sierra said she is willing to pay the difference for a two-bedroom apartment.
“At this point, the only thing that I need is to move out I just need Housing to work with me not against me,” Sierra said.
When it comes to fixing the bed bugs and fleas in the current unit, housing authority officials said they withhold payment to the landlord until the landlord corrects the problem.
Western Mass News reached out to the landlord for a timeline on when the issues will be fixed. John Nieroda released a statement that read:
"Pest control inspected and found no bed bugs, only fleas. The tenant missed their first 2 appointments to clear the problem. The appointment was rescheduled for the 3rd time on June 2nd and they did let the technician in at that time."