BILLINGS - Residents of the Fraser Tower apartment complex near downtown Billings are speaking out after a bed bug problem has gone on for weeks without much help from the property managers.
Fraser Tower houses elderly people and those with disabilities, and residents said that the bed bugs are just one of the many problems that those living in the complex are dealing with.
Kathy Smith is a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) for one of the residents whose room is currently infested with bed bugs. Her client chose to remain anonymous, but Smith has witnessed the problems in her home firsthand.
"It breaks my heart," Smith said Sunday afternoon. "I love my client. She's like family to me, and I can't help her. I feel helpless."
Smith said it's been nearly three weeks since she was able to enter her client's home. Typically, she would visit every day assisting her with things like laundry, dishes, or just keeping her home clean.
“She has MS. She’s 63 years old and in a wheelchair," Smith said. "She can’t take care of herself. But I refuse. I can’t put my own home in danger. I just can’t."
Smith's client and many other residents have complained to the Tamarack Property Management Company, which owns Fraser Tower for weeks. Recently, the company began getting in contact with them, but the residents said that still not much has been done.
“They made my client suffer for two weeks and she’s a disabled woman," Smith said. "That bothers me so bad."
MTN reached out to Tamarack Property Management Company multiple times, but never received a phone call back.
According to residents, it isn't the first time that Fraser Tower has had a bed bug problem. Janice Hardy has lived there for nearly ten years. Her home became infested with bed bugs a couple of years ago.
"I had to get rid of all of my furniture and bag up everything," Hardy said. "I went and stayed with a friend for several weeks before the problem was fixed."
Hardy doesn't have bed bugs now, but said that management's response to this instance is similar to how they reacted when it was her home.
“They are trying to get by with doing as little as possible,” Hardy said.
Another resident, Stephanie Nava, lives with Cerebral Palsy, and while she doesn't have bed bugs, she does have some safety concerns with her apartment.
“There’s issues upon issues in this building and they’re not addressing them. And it’s not fair,” Nava said.
Nava said that she has complained multiple times about the fall hazards and uneven floor in her apartment and the property managers have done nothing.
"I just feel neglected, especially because I'm disabled," Nava said.
Residents said that some of the rooms have been sprayed and they're hopeful that it is a sign of better times ahead.
"I like to pray about things though, and I'm going to pray about this one," Hardy said. "Because sometimes, that does work."