Some Dogwood Manor residents are so upset at its resident council president that they are circulating a petition to have her removed.
Dogwood Manor Resident Council President Roxann Larson told the Times Free Press last week that some units in the public housing complex had bedbugs. Officials with the Chattanooga Housing Authority, which manages the West Side facility for the city, confirmed that seven apartments in the 136-unit site had been treated for bedbugs. At least one apartment was treated as late as September.
However, some Dogwood Manor residents said the information should not have been made public, that the building is not infested with bedbugs and that the article harmed the reputation of everyone who lives there.
Jeanette Johnson, a Dogwood Manor resident of three years, started a petition on Monday to have Larson and the entire resident council removed. Johnson reported having 40 signatures by 5 p.m. Monday and said her goal is to collect 65 signatures.
"One lady had two people coming to visit her today," said Johnson. "Both of them canceled after they saw the article [about bedbugs] in the paper."
Dogwood residents said that people riding the city bus have switched seats to avoid sitting next to them. Other residents have had family members urging them to relocate from Dogwood Manor.
Larson said she intended no harm to Dogwood Manor residents.
"All we wanted to do was to share our story and to point out that there were bedbugs," she said.
She said she had pointed out the problem several times, including writing a letter to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., "but we were not included in the decision of who was going to do the exterminating."
She said the first exterminating company called was not effective and that a HUD's rights and responsibilities book recommends that residents should be included in the decisions regarding the well-being of their homes.
Larson said it's been at least a year since Dogwood Manor has had an active resident council, adding that she has served as president for only six months of a three-year term. She said she would like to finish her term.
Housing officials did not say how many signatures were needed on the petition to unseat Larson, stating that because Dogwood Manor is owned by Chattanooga and not CHA, its resident group does not fall under HUD or CHA guidelines.