Commentary Strange Fruit

Our colleague Jake Ryan from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting was working on a story at Dosker Manor, a high-rise public housing complex in downtown Louisville.

As he interviewed residents for his original story, something else kept coming up in the conversations: bedbugs. More than half of residents in the 685-unit complex either had them, had recently had them, or were making drastic lifestyle changes to try to avoid them.

Dosker Manor is housing for seniors and people with disabilities. The majority of its residents are black. Whose job is it to make sure this vulnerable slice of the population has housing that is “decent, safe, sanitary and in good repair,” as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires public housing to be?

Residents have complained to management and called 311 to report problems. But the investigation found that calls aren’t being followed up on. Work orders aren’t being generated to send exterminators to the infested units. And the seniors living in Dosker Manor are still going to bed every night, knowing they’ll be bitten by bedbugs while they sleep.

Meanwhile, leadership at the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, which oversees public housing, says they’re confident their system is working like it should. Jake Ryan joins us on this week’s show to tell us more.

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Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects.