Local I-Team: Tenants Battle Bed Bugs at Independent Apartments

MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com)--Residents at Independent Apartments told the I-Team almost one wing of government subsidized apartment complex is ravaged by bed bugs, and, after five months, the problem is just getting worse.


"I've gotten bitten on the face and on the arm. It's irritating because you can't sleep at night," said Ronald Baldridge.

The complex houses elderly and individuals with disabilities like frustrated tenant Ronald Baldridge. Baldridge sleeps on a sofa after throwing a bug-ridden bed out. The sofa is surrounded by bedbugs.

Bedbugs on the floor also surround garbage bag wrapped clothes Baldridge tries to protect.

TESCO Properties, Inc., owned by the Sisson family, manages the Independent Apartments. It receives tens of thousands of dollars of federal and state funds through HUD and the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA). The amounts are provided to maintain the property and address problems like bedbugs.


The insects flow through the air vents, according to 15-year tenant Peggy Nelson, and continue to ravage virtually all of the apartments in one wing of the complex. Residents say the periodic spot spraying by exterminators is woefully inadequate.

 Nelson led the I-Team to a dumpster where her sofas sit.

"It had a lot of bed bugs, you know, all up in the cracks," said Nelson.


Nelson said she was forced to discard the sofas less than two years after buying them brand new because exterminators gave up on them. She does not know where she will sit.

Maria Hallas, Reporter: "Do you have any furniture?"

Peggy Nelson: "No."

Maria Hallas, Reporter: "You don't have any furniture?"

Peggy Nelson: "No"


Nelson told the I-Team she discovered about 1,000 bed bugs in her husband’s wheelchair where he spends much of the day.

And there are other problems too. 

Baldridge said many of the apartment stoves do not work, and there are cabinets missing.


"It is a shame, it is a shame. Something should be done about it. Someone should be held accountable," said Baldridge. 


The I-Team called TESCO but no one responded. HUD and the THDA say they didn't know about the problems until the I-Team alerted them.

THDA representatives said there is a procedure that requires properties to come up with a plan to eradicate infestation. That plan may be a next step for TESCO.


Baldridge says he filed complaints with Memphis Code Enforcement and is in the process of contacting THDA.   

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