Shelter residents upset over bed bugs, no hot water

Residents at a homeless shelter in Providence haven't had hot water for three months and have been living with bed bugs for seven months, according to an advocacy group.

Representatives from the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project spoke out about the issue on Friday.

"I wanted to resolve this issue without media involvement," said Bill Chamberlain of RIHAP. "But now it's time to get our hands dirty."

The shelter is run by the Urban League of Rhode Island, a privately owned non-profit organization and minority advocacy group that runs two homeless shelters in Providence. It receives more than $100,000 from the state.

"That money pays for day-to-day operations. We can't afford to replace the hot water heater. We've asked the state for funding and have not heard back," said Urban League President and CEO Dennis Langley.

Langley said bed bugs are a problem at every shelter. He said they spray the mattresses daily but said the patrons bring the bed bugs into the shelter with them so it will always be a recurring problem.

Chamberlain said the RIHAP began emailing the state asking for an intervention in June. He said while the state has responded to emails, it hasn't taken any action.

"That's why we decided to speak to the media. These men are living in squalor conditions. I cannot imagine what it's like," said Barbara Kalil of RIHAP.

Phone calls and emails from NBC 10 to the state on Friday went unreturned.