Residents call Hacienda the “Haci-hellhole” or “Bedbug City.” Nearly everyone has a story of bedbugs, and residents collect them in mason jars to show to housing authority maintenance workers, in an attempt to prove they aren’t making up the source of their pockmarked arms.
Almost one-fifth of the apartments in Hacienda were infested with bedbugs, according to the most recent federal inspection in 2012. Exterminators have been called at least nine times in the last year, but residents say the place still is overrun with the blood-sucking pests.
Residents used to have more hope. In 2009, the bedbug situation became so dire at Hacienda that residents signed a petition, stormed the City Council chamber and “raised so much hell” that the housing authority was forced to fumigate the entire building, said Eaton, the Hacienda resident who struggled with mice and cockroaches.
No one wants to do that now. Walk around Hacienda and Nevin Plaza, and almost every resident will tell you a personal anecdote about the housing authority’s failed promises to provide the basics.
Eaton has lost any hope that the agency will help. After months of complaints, contractors gave her a few sticky pads for the mice in her apartment. She bought her own mouse poison, and the infestation has improved.
“Who even wants to try anymore?” she said. “I wanna go someplace else, but I don’t have anywhere else to go. They treat us like animals here.”
Unable to get basic help from the housing authority, residents often turn to prayer.
On a recent Tuesday, about 15 Nevin Plaza residents gathered in the first-floor common room for their afternoon prayer group.
“There are a lot of things going on in here that people’s unhappy with but they don’t want to say because they don’t want to get kicked out,” said Eddie Williams, the resident pastor who lives on the second floor. “But since we started praying, people’s not as scared.”