Residents of New Kensington’s Parnassus Manor complain of roach infestation |
Valley News Dispatch

Residents of New Kensington’s Parnassus Manor complain of roach infestation

Emily Balser
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
A dead roach is seen in the hallway of the Parnassus Manor apartment building in New Kensington on Thursday, July 18, 2019.
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Jean Berube, who lives in of Westmoreland Public Housing Authority’s Parnassus Manor in New Kensington, shows a trap filled with dead roaches from his kitchen on Thursday, July 18, 2019.
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
A roach crawls along the wall of Jean Berbube’s kitchen at Parnassus Manor in New Kensington on July 18, 2019.

Roaches crawling up and down the walls.

Roaches on the ceiling light fixtures.

Dead roaches in the hallway.

These are just a few of the problems residents of Westmoreland Public Housing Authority’s Parnassus Manor in New Kensington have encountered over the past few months as roaches have infested their apartments.

“It’s disgusting,” said resident Jean Berube, who has lived in his apartment for 10 years and never had a problem until this year. “I make sure everything is clean — I can’t live like that.”

Berube said he doesn’t know where else to turn. He said the housing authority has treated his baseboards, but it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.

He’s spent nearly $40 of his own money buying roach traps and poison to try to take care of the problem, but they persist.

“I want to give up,” he said.

Michael Washowich, executive director of the Westmoreland County Housing Authority, said the agency has identified about 10 to 15 units with roaches and begun a treatment plan utilizing maintenance workers as well as hiring pest-control company Orkin to treat for bed bugs and roaches.

“It’s just something we’ve got to remain vigilant about,” Washowich said. “We’re going to go to work and we’re going to increase the treatments and do whatever we have to to get this under control.”

He said the affected units would likely be reinspected next week and treated by Orkin.

Resident John Martinez has lived in his apartment for about 3½ years. He fears the roaches are coming from another floor above him and into other apartments through cracks and holes in the ceilings and walls.

Martinez said he also has been buying his own treatments, but said not everyone can afford to do that.

“Everybody here is on a fixed income,” he said. “I’m saving all my receipts.”

Washowich said reimbursement of what tenants purchase on their own isn’t an option.

“We can’t control or reimburse people on what they elect to spend,” he said.

Gloria Tobin, a resident of four years, said she moved all of her food out of her cabinets and into plastic tote boxes because she couldn’t stand the thought of opening her cabinets and seeing roaches. She no longer uses her dishes.

“I’m using paper plates, plastic cups,” she said.

She said it took the housing authority three months to act on her complaints. She said it has treated her baseboards twice, but it’s not working.

“It makes you physically sick,” she said of seeing the roaches in her apartment.

Martinez said the authority told him and other residents to work together to try to combat the problem.

Washowich said while the authority does encourage residents to report early and treat the issue, it doesn’t replace the treatments the housing authority does. He said roaches are typically associated with a lack of cleanliness, but said they often scatter to other parts of the apartment building once treatment begins.

Martinez has filed complaints with the housing authority but is frustrated with the lack of urgency to treat the issue.

“All they tell me is, ‘John, there’s a process,’ ” Martinez said. “I see no process.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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