A July 13 article struck a cord (”Frustration with infested apartment led man to unleash bedbugs at Augusta City Center”). About two years ago, I saw a woman fall down while trying to carry bags of food from the Salvation Army to her apartment. I stopped and helped her, driving her to the apartment that was being rented for her by a state agency.

On the way she told me her story as to how she’d always worked but had recently been in the hospital for heart failure and ended up needing help. I looked at this woman in her 50s and reduced to a place that looked as if it should be condemned and wanted to cry. I helped her in with her groceries and then drove to the store and purchased food and shampoo and soaps and returned. She was trying to clean and arrange her meager bit of possessions in this place.

How do we, as a civilized society, allow people to rent such substandard housing through our city agencies? How can we not care enough about others that we do not provide a better standard of living for those whose health has failed, who are out of work, or who have no other safety net than the state or city agencies.

For this woman, with heart and lung failure, to have to live in a place that smelled like mold and was filthy is a failure of the system. There are no easy answers, but no one should have to live with bedbugs, uncaring landlords, and unkept buildings. Slum landlords in Augusta who allow these places to exist should be held accountable by the city and by the landlords who do care and do an excellent job for their tenants.

Nancy M. Kelley


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