Bed bugs invade SLO homeless shelter

July 10, 2013


Bed bugs have moved into the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s (CAPSLO) Maxine Lewis Memorial Homeless Shelter, causing staff to temporarily shut down the facility.

On Monday evening, some homeless people seeking a bed for the night were told to sleep outside at the Prado Day Center or find another place to sleep. The shelter will remain closed until Friday evening, according to a sign on the front door.


Closure sign at the Maxine Lewis Shelter

The sign did not provide a reason for the closure, but numerous sources confirmed that bed bugs caused the shelter to shut down.

Many of the clients spent Monday night sleeping outside in sleeping bags at the day center, sources told CalCoastNews.

The sign on the shelter door states that CAPSLO will allow clients who have priority, as well as those who have spent fewer than 30 days in the shelter, to stay overnight at the Prado Day Center during the closure. Those without priority will have to fend for themselves.

CAPSLO requires homeless people to hand over 50 to 70 percent of their income to CAPSLO or another nonprofit Family Ties in order to have priority. CAPSLO officials contend homeless individuals need to have their income managed.

This requirement has led investigators with the Office of the Inspector General to launch an investigation into Family Ties keeping more of several CAPSLO clients’ money than is legally allowed.

Clients who refuse to hand over their income after their first 30 days in the shelter must enter a lottery each night in order to secure a bed. During the shutdown, there are no beds available through the lottery, a sign on the door says.

CAPSLO staff refused to say if they provided those seeking shelter transportation to the Prado Day Center and told reporters they are not permitted on the grounds.

Prado Day Center manager Shawn Ison and Maxine Lewis Shelter manager Della Wagner said the only person permitted to answer questions about the shutdown is Homeless Services Director Dee Torres. Torres, however, failed to respond to questions.

Since bed bugs first invaded California about four years ago, their population has exploded. Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed on blood.

One pregnant bed bug can produce 7,800 adults, 121,000 babies and 69,000 eggs in just six months.


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This story brings a whole new meaning to “Uncovered SLO”

Bed bugs hide in cracks in the wall and behind baseboards during the day and then they crawl in your bed at night and they bite you. They have the ability to find you because they can sense your body heat. They are difficult to get rid of and the mattresses usually have to be thrown away unless they’re the plastic institutional kind that can be washed and sanitized, such as what the shelter probably has.

Bed bugs also climb into people’s suitcases in hotels/motels and then come home with the person. I stayed in a hotel a few weeks ago and when I got home, I unpacked my bags on the back deck and checked every piece of clothes before I brought anything into the house. As for my suitcase, I left it out there for a week just to be safe. I don’t know if my hotel room had bed bugs but something bit me in my sleep when I stayed there and there appears to be an epidemic of them in hotels lately because foreigners have re-introduced them into the US although they were once wiped out in this country back in the 40’s-50’s.

In the days of DDT, chloridane and hardwood floors, it was possible to spray the cracks and clean the floors.

What I find unfathomable is how CAPSO, with the $$$millions they receive in public funding, doesn’t have a contingency plan to provide overnight beds when something, such as an infestation of bed-bugs.

The way CAPSLO is run by its present administration, it seems like they just take things day to day, make up new rules on the fly, and are unable to deal effectively with obvious possible issues in a proactive manner.

As the old saying goes, “The fish rots from the head first,” and I believe the failure to have in place contingency plans should be laid at the feet of Dee Torres, Biz Steinberg, and the SLO County BOS which has so willingly shoveled over county taxpayer dollars to fund the mismanagement of CAPSLO.

As usual MaryMalone..your bitterness is not charming. The only thing I see rotten here is your attitude and the continuation of spreading incorrect facts. You don’t have one clue about CAPSLO and the process. But hey keep up the happy sunshine attitude. And CAPSLO has already dealt effectively and swiftly with this issue. As you sit here trolling to add your bitter comments the problems is already being taken care of. Hey try to be a little more happier…and have a good day.

Your attempt to shift focus from CAPSLO and Dee Torres to me is predictable but illogical. In addition, ad hominem attacks are the mark of a commenter who is unable to more ethically deal with the opinions of other posters.

It is CAPSLO and Dee Torres, who are actually responsible for having to close the CAPSLO homeless services facilities, kicking their clients out into the streets, because of the occurrence of an infestation of bedbugs.

I am simply the one commenting on their failures to serve their clients, as noted in the article.

MaryMalone (or should we call you Julia Tacker??), CAPSLO dealt with it quickly and efficiently and no one can plan for bedbugs. Or are you that crazy you think maybe CAPLO planned that with their attempt of world domination over the homeless? Maybe they got Family Ties in on the whole shenanigans. Your constant ranting and delusional nastiness directed at CAPSLO makes me wonder what your real problem is.. You don’t know Biz Steinberg and neither do you know Ms Torres. Because if you actually did you wouldn’t even be up here writing stuff. CAPSLO did NOT put SLO population at risk. Your statement is so ridiculous that I can’t even understand how you could write something so outrageously stupid… !

Mary Malone is not Julia Tacker, suggesting only clouds the issue/s not recommended. stick with bona fide user names please.

Localbum, really, you are attacking the wrong person here. You state that the problem has already been taken care which would lead one to think you are close to the action. Second, the person you need to take issue with us Ms Torres and/or Steinberg. This is a community health issue and the should have released a statement announcing the closing, the plan of action for resolving the problem and an update as to when this problem would be resolved. This is a serious health issue involving lots of people: employees work at the Homeless Shelter and Prado daycare center, laundry, towels, meals, etc are exposed to all. Then you have volunteers coming in contact with homeless, employees, etc. Then you have the homeless riding the buses, sitting in the parks, restaurants, library, stores, etc. The issue is wit CAPSLO. This is a blog, people make comments an express their thoughts, ideas, feelings. Don’t read a blog if you don’t like it. I usually don’t agree with Mary, but I respect her and everyone’s rights to speak their piece and on this issue, I support her comments. Please, go speak with Ms. Torres or Hill, they will agree with you as I’m sure you know one or the other.

I feel sorry for the single moms and young families who need a clean, safe place to sleep. I hope they resolve this bedbug issue ASAP.

You can’t do anything about it. You get bedbugs in their situation, there’s no way of getting rid of them. They continue to let people stay there for months or longer when they are supposed to get 6 weeks only. When you have a lottery and the guy or woman who can’t get a bed, stays under a bridge or bunks with his friend in a trailer then comes back the next day and spreads it around but the Maxine Shelter isn’t the only place the homeless are putting the bedbugs, they’re seating in Barnes & Nobles, the SLO Library, Taco Bell, the SLO Buses and etc. The homeless shelter gives them free food coupons everyday and that alone spreads them everything except the places they don’t get free food or services.

Wow leatherpink; I didn’t think about how the bugs are likely being spread throughout SLO. You made some good points. Also the poor kids may be bringing them from the shelter on their clothes/jackets to local schools. Sounds pretty serious.

The poor are only a small part of the problem. Anyone that’s stayed in a motel is a problem. Or any where else for that matter. We are all in deep excretion. Better take your gun to bed. Or at least your vacuum. Suck those bugs up and ship them to the Kalabanese. Bugs will suck up their blood. Wars over.

Then and only then will we take care of the problem with the bugs.


Spread the word that SLO is infested with bed bugs, scabies and SMART GROWTH.

Under smart growth principles the little critters would still be waiting for a permit. What you’re looking at is urban sprawl, bed bug style.

2 years ago they had issues with scabies! A client became infected after staying there. Perhaps they should actually clean the beds on a regular basis.

This is a public-health issue. Dee Torres’ lack of planning for the possibility of an outbreak of bedbugs in the CAPSLO facility has put the wider SLO population at risk for becoming infested with a problem which is not easy to deal with.

AND it sounds like she didn’t even provide treatment for her clients before she sent them on their way, without housing, to fend for themselves. Where did these CAPSLO clients sleep? Where ever they slept, if it was in a place, or on a surface, which can be newly infested with bedbugs, another site of contagion may have been established.

It is not surprising that easily-spread parasites will show up at a homeless facility where many people share housing, and no one has an assigned bed.

What is beyond surprising is that CAPSLO has no contingency plan to provide services when such infestations occur.

The fact that the head of homeless services, Dee Torres, was caught by surprise, without a Plan B for CAPSLO to provide services to the clients of the organizations with which CAPSLO contracted is an indication of how unfit she is for her position.

I mean, REALLY. CAPSLO didn’t have an alternative plan for such an obviously possible occurrence as an infestation of bed bugs? She should be fired for that public-health-endangering failure.


Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.

— Denis Waitley

Gee, I wonder what other possible dangers CAPSLO and Torres have forgotten to plan for?

Some possibilities include AIDS, TB, Malaria, Ebola Virus, and probably a hundred other communicable diseases. Don’t forget they could also be harboring terrorists, serial killers or (most likely) some unstable person on the brink of going psycho with some sort of weapon. (Although the latter would likely be included under “terrorist” the way prosecutors and LEOs have expanded the definition/meaning lately.)

And they shouldn’t let the matter of a budget of ~$3 million per year stop them should they. I mean, things like the pay for many staff, very high bills for utilities (their clients use a lot of hot water to shower and wash clothes), high maintenance repair costs (a few clients are rather destructive) and numerous other expenses could all be sacrificed for these “what ifs.”

This whole CAPSLO thing really BUGS me.

A “mitey” foe has closed the homeless shelter!

Surprise, surprise, surprise. The bigger surprise is the MS. Torres again sits on her throne and creates another negative story by not releasing a news release, or answering news questions, etc. CAPSLO is receiving taxpayers dollars, you have responsibility to respond to reasonable inquiries. Get off your perch, stop acting like a child and do your damn job.